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Handling an anonymous report

Conducting an investigation can be difficult if the person who feels targeted wishes to remain anonymous, but you are nevertheless required to do so by law. If you know who the person making the report is, try to get them to feel sufficiently secure to be willing to take part in an investigation. You can always take general preventative measures to prevent future abusive conduct.

If you become aware of something that could constitute abusive conduct and the person being subjected to the behaviour wishes to remain anonymous, you are obligated by law to investigate nevertheless.

It is difficult to investigate, for example, if you do not know who is being targeted or the individual who feels targeted does not want you to investigate. Sufficiently investigating the matter to determine what has happened is difficult in this case, which means that determining whether the behaviour is victimisation or harassment in the legal sense is problematic. It also becomes difficult to take measures to address the situation.

What you can do is try to foster trust on the part of the employee or student who feels targeted and assure them that you will manage the case securely and appropriately. You can, for example, suggest that they read through the webpages for information on how abusive conduct is handled and what the process for dealing with it is.

Always take what you learn seriously. Anyone who feels targeted is entitled to their feelings, and these feelings are to be respected regardless of whether the behaviour is victimisation or harassment in the legal sense or not. Explain to the individual that you want to deal with the situation, but that you can only introduce general preventative measures if they do not wish to take part in an investigation. If you learned that something has happened through an intermediary, communicate this information via this person.

If you are unable to proceed further in the case, make an official note of what you have learned or save the email or message and register the document as an abusive conduct case. Doing so gives subsequent managers access to the history of the case should anything similar happen with the same person in the future. Document the measures you took and register this as well.

You can always do something

You can always take general measures of a preventative nature by, for example, informing employees of policies and procedures, holding a workshop on our relationships with one another or conducting a work environment survey to investigate the climate of cooperation. In your preventative work, always seek assistance from the support functions at your department or faculty.

You must always keep your eyes and ears open and intercept anyone behaving in a potentially abusive manner if you personally witness the event. Speak to the person privately about the conduct you witnessed and explain why the behaviour is not allowed. Communicate what you expect from the person going forward. Document the event and what you did about it.

Read more about results, measures and preventative work…