A community in Indiana has recently administered a policy of zero tolerance concerning sexual abuse on campuses. This was brought on in part because of the mishandling of similar accusations at Penn State University. The aim of the policies is to protect victims from criminal activity on campus and to attempt to get outside agencies involved should report of abuse happen to be raised. It is also to protect those employees reporting their concerns.
The policy is to create incentives for employees to report abusive behavior immediately rather than have to rely on their supervisors to provide such reporting. It is also designed to protect those individuals making such reports by insuring those individuals that retribution will not be taken against them for filing such reports. “People don’t want to sling someone’s name through the mud,” one official was reported as saying. “But (even if a misunderstanding occurs), almost anyone will forgive action on behalf of a child.
This is similar to many whistle blowing matters where individuals attempting to do the right thing by reporting wrongs face retribution and, often, termination of their job. Too often, employees are in the unenviable situation of risking loss of a job for reporting wrongdoing on someone else’s part.
If you are an individual in a position where you have to make such uncomfortable choices, competent counsel is available to make certain that you can address your concerns without facing retaliation. Laws such as the one mentioned above are designed to protect the employee, but not all universities or places of business will necessarily adhere to such a policy.
Hopefully, the circumstances in Penn State will teach all of us that no one whatever their supervisory capacity may be should be above the law.
Source: Evansville Courier & Press, “Evansville universities: Zero tolerance on abuse,” by John Martin, Nov. 13, 2011