This is a quick reminder that it pays to look at the people behind your policies. Good policies, good training, and consistent investigation and enforcement are an employer's best defenses against lawsuits that can arise from an employee's claims of harassment.
But the best enforcement policy is only as sound as the person who is on the firing line of the investigation. We are all human, and we all bring unique perspectives, preconceptions, and biases to our roles as investigator and decision maker. The same is true for those who bring complaints and information to investigators.
How can you protect against these biases in an investigation? One way is to be cognizant of your own biases, and sensitive to those of witnesses. These can arise from gender, race, educational level, power, and many other factors.
Another way is to involve more than one person in the investigation. Ensure that a variety of perspectives are brought to bear upon asituation and you will help to prevent internal complaints from blossoming into lawsuits.