Judge rules HR must be part of complaint process

A federal court ruled against a company that seemingly had a solid process for employees who wanted to file complaints. The problem: HR wasn’t part of the process.

The case: EEOC v. V&J Foods, Inc.
The issue: Whether a fast-food chain’s process for fielding and investigating harassment complaints was adequate. The company pointed out that it had written policies informing employees to complain to their managers over any incident of harassment.
The argument: One of the harassment charges was against a manager, so the victim wasn’t sure who should hear the complaint. As a result, the victim didn’t complain and the harassment continued, until the victim filed a lawsuit.
What the judge said: The company was at fault for not making it clear that the first option for a victim should be to contact the company’s human resources department with the complaint, and that the company should have had such a process in place, including contact info for HR.
The lesson: Courts view HR as the advocate for the company and the employee, and as the key player in any complaint procedure.