Receiving a Report
The moment an organization receives a report of misconduct is a critical juncture at which the organization’s actions can make the difference between a fairly resolved matter and a highly contested one. Organizations must take a number of steps to initiate the response process, promote safety, and ensure that all involved parties are treated fairly and empathically.
The intake, or taking in of a report, is the initial stage of the case-handling process when a complainant first brings forward a concern through any of the designated channels identified by the organization. It is an opportunity for the individual receiving the report to preliminarily understand the concern in order for the organization to determine an appropriate course of immediate action. This first contact is not the time to pursue a detailed fact finding of the incident, rather, it is a time to listen. No matter the circumstance, the individual making a report should be fully heard, respected, and affirmed for coming forward.
The Sample Intake Form in the Supporting Resources portion of this section outlines a way to document the intake conversation with the person receiving the initial report (e.g., a supervisor or manager). If an individual has previously submitted an incident report form, the individual conducting the intake will not repeat those questions. Instead, the intake meeting should be used to determine if the individual has any additional information they wish to add and to follow up with specific questions (i.e., information missing from the intake form or unclear on the Incident Report).
The person who conducted the intake then meets with whomever the organization designates to manage the complaint process. Using the Questions to Guide Action Planning included in the Supporting Resources portion of Action Planning, they assess the report and determine next steps. This two-step process (Intake followed by Action Planning) creates a robust record of the organization’s effort to take prompt, appropriate action and allows consultation and collaboration in planning.
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When it comes to organizational response to reports of harassment or hostile or abusive conduct, there can be no blanket assurance of confidentiality. It is important to communicate clearly with everyone involved in making or receiving a report how information will be used and shared. There is limited confidentiality available in the reporting and investigative process.
Your Policy and practice should articulate that, while every effort will be made to protect individual privacy, information will be shared as needed to investigate and resolve the matter being reported. An employee requesting anonymity in a report cannot be guaranteed that will be the case. However, organizations should state that information will be shared only on a “need to know” basis. For more on this topic, see Organizational Communications in Action Planning.
The following supporting documents can be tailored to your organization’s unique needs.
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