July 10, 2015 Category: Hostile Work Environment
When California companies receive allegations of sexual harassment in the workplace, they are often responsible for investigating the issue while maintaining fairness and integrity throughout the whole process. In some cases, this means that employees who are involved in the incident may need to maintain confidentiality.
However, the National Labor Relations Act allows employees to engage is protected activities for their protection. This essentially means that they have the right to discuss any disciplinary matters or investigations that they are directly involved in. This often goes against the interests of the company in being able to keep the investigation fair.
In 2012, it was determined by the National Labor Relations Board that there is a need for balance between the interests of the company and the interests of the employee. On June 26, 2015, the board also determined that blanket confidentiality agreements used by employers are unlawful. However, the board did not provide employers with any guidelines to follow.
Due to the board’s decision, companies must be careful when investigating workplace issues, especially if confidentiality is an important part of a particular investigation. Additionally, employers should avoid, if possible, written policies that include blanket confidentiality agreements.
A hostile work environment can cause the quality of an employee’s work to decline and may even lead to them quitting or resigning. As such, companies are expected to take accusations of sexual harassment very seriously. If a company fails to investigate the situation or forces the employee to sign a blanket confidentiality agreement, that employee may potentially file a lawsuit against the company. If the employee loses income or sustains other damages due to the situation, an attorney may help them seek compensation through the lawsuit.