Q: Do we need to investigate rumors of harassment even if no one has made a complaint?
A: A company always has some inherent liability in relation to discriminatory or harassing comments or behavior. So we recommend you investigate. The level of liability usually correlates to the nature, severity, and context of the comments, the position of the employee who made them, and what the employer does or does not do about it.
Since you have knowledge of a potential situation, we recommend you investigate the matter and take appropriate disciplinary action if it turns out your anti-harassment policy was violated. As you conduct the investigation, document the discussions you have as well as your findings, and reassure those you interview that their participation will not result in retaliation.
Learn more about identifying and addressing harassment in the workplace by watching the webinar, "Tackling Locker Room Culture in the Office."