Sometimes employment matters transcend the standard “employment law statutes” and become something much bigger.
I give you video game maker Activision. Recently, Activision was sued in a wrongful death action that stems from alleged sexual harassment.
In the lawsuit, Paul and Janet Moynihan, the parents of former Activision employee Kerri Moynihan, allege that the company’s failure to protect her from sexual harassment by a supervisor and other male colleagues drove her to suicide.
To be clear, this is not a one-off claim against Activision. The company is facing multiple lawsuits concerning an alleged toxic workplace and is the target of federal and state regulators.
I continually counsel clients that one of the ways to avoid employment claims is to foster a solid workplace culture. That doesn’t mean the workplace will be free from controversy. Hardly.
What is means is that when there are issues, those issues are addressed thoroughly and completely. It means that employees are not afraid to raise issues, are not retaliated against for raising issues and know that if there is a problem, it will be dealt with.
That also doesn’t mean that every time an employee complains they get their way, or the subject of the complaint is fired. Part of creating a solid workplace culture is hearing ALL sides in an investigation. Reflexive discipline or action isn’t the answer.
Having an empathetic ear but conducting a thorough and complete investigation into complaints is a sure-fire way to help prevent employment issues from turning ugly. Employers that aren’t listening and investigating are missing the boat and will eventually cause more harm, not only to individual employees, but to the overall culture.