As famous photographers say, “sit down and just wait. Something interesting will happen.” The same holds true in risk management. And the lesson from Brett Kavanaugh is a big one and as Winston Churchill quipped “never let a good crisis go to waste.” Listen to our podcast on this topic as we go deeper and deeper on the subject.
While I won’t weigh in on whether the accusations are or are not true, the accusations bring up an excellent point of learning that we as risk managers must take into consideration. That is the level to which they rise – is the alleged act a crime or simple misconduct?
Vox ran an interesting article in which they state Kavanuagh’s actions are a crime and not misconduct. You can read the story here https://www.vox.com/2018/9/17/17869542/brett-kavanaugh-sexual-assault-misconduct-allegation
The point is interesting and as a man who holds a criminology degree and was married to a criminology professor/acting Dean of a criminology college, I think the point is well worth exploring.
First, there are two schools of thought on when a crime occurs – one is at the time of the act and the other is when one is actually convicted of the crime. Which one you believe will guide your view of people, but when it comes to risk management and handling complaints of sexual harassment, you must consider a crime to happen at the time of the action not conviction. Why, because crimes need to be handled by law enforcement.
Which begs the question – is Vox correct that this is a crime? I can concur with their assessment; however, this brings up an even bigger issue. If it is considered a crime, then why is Senator Fienstein not also committing a crime by aiding and abetting Kavanaugh? If these allegations are to be considered a crime, then Fienstein should have immediately handed over the information to law enforcement. Fienstein is not judge and jury. It also begs the question if it is a crime, why did the accuser not go straight to law enforcement?
What you should do
Most of that is neither here nor there. What is important is what you need to do if you are handling harassment complaints? We discuss these things in our sexual harassment training for supervisors. First, you must consider crimes at the time of the alleged action. Second, you must involve law enforcement if a alleged crime has occurred (rape, attempted rape, battery, etc.). Misconduct can be handled in-house, but crimes should be turned over to law enforcement.