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Linked – Sexual Harassment Cases Show the Ineffectiveness of Going to H.R.

Among many things, an interesting side-effect of this is maybe people starting to see the reality of HR departments. I think this reality is especially true of law firms, and other organizations where there are owners/founders/partners, and everyone else. HR might encourage employees to bring their complaints, but they might also be powerless to do anything about it, and will always have to protect the org.

“While many human resources officials would undoubtedly prefer to respond more vigorously to harassment complaints, the fact that they work for the company places significant limits on them — even down to the most basic human interactions. For example, human resources officials must carefully parse their words when speaking with accusers for fear that their remarks could later be introduced as evidence in court.

“She has spent hours if not days trying to figure out how she’s going to tell you, and you want to have tissues there because she is going to cry in your office,” said Kate Bischoff, a human resources compliance consultant. “But you can’t say, ‘I’m so sorry,’ because that could be an acknowledgment” of wrongdoing.

Even if human resources officials conclude that the accused should be disciplined or fired, they typically have no independent authority to make it happen.

“I have not met an H.R. person who doesn’t want to do right thing for employees,” said Ms. Bischoff, who is a former human resources official. “That said, they’re in the same power structure that the employee alleging harassment is in.”


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