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Should You Hire Someone Accused of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual harassment has been a hot topic of discussion amongst HR managers for nearly a year now following the litany of high-profile allegations of harassment brought to light by the #MeToo movement. Businesses are being more careful than ever to address the possibility of sexual harassment and have a plan in place to handle it. Such policies have resulted in more than a few terminations for behavior that might have been tolerated not too long ago.

Employees who have been terminated over reports of sexual harassment may struggle to find a new job. Most employers would prefer not to invite such ugliness into their place of business. However, those accused of sexual harassment at work are usually not convicted or even charged with a crime, and it is possible for these people to learn valuable lessons from the experience that make them better employees. Some hard and highly qualified workers stand among the accused. But is it worth the risk of hiring them?

Before making a decision to hire someone who has been sanctioned or terminated for sexual harassment, it’s critical to do your due diligence. Have KRESS run a full criminal background check, credentials and education verification, and drug screen first. Allegations of sexual harassment can point to larger problems, such as substance abuse or criminality, that pre-employment screening can help identify. The next step is to have a very frank discussion with your job candidate.

If a job candidate is not upfront with you when you ask them about sexual harassment, this a serious warning sign that this person cannot be trusted. If a candidate tries to hide or lie about termination due to sexual harassment, they should probably not be considered.

It may be the case that your job candidate was falsely accused of harassment, or that it was used as a convenient excuse for termination. You will have to judge for yourself whether you believe your interviewee’s story and whether or not you trust this person’s word about what happened. Bear in mind that terminations due to sexual harassment are comparatively rare. Do not dismiss the allegations easily.

If you believe your job candidate is being honest about their experience and you trust that it will not be repeated, it’s still a good idea to check some references. If you hear that the candidate does not work well with the opposite gender or that they had other interpersonal problems at work, consider that a very serious warning sign.

Finally, if a job candidate is up front with you about sexual harassment allegations, you must always consider the potential liability the hire could bring into your company. If this person is accused again of sexual harassment in your workplace and you knew about his or her history, you could be opening yourself and your company to a potential lawsuit.

If you have any questions about how to prevent or handle sexual harassment at your workplace, call the employment experts at KRESS at 888.636.3693. We help businesses across the Houston area maintain healthy, happy, and productive workplaces.

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