Accused of Wrongdoing at Work: What to Do

Updated on December 16, 2017
FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

HR Wants To Talk To Me About A Confidential Employee Matter?

Yikes!  What have I done?  What do I say?  What are my rights?  Did I just pee my pants?
Yikes! What have I done? What do I say? What are my rights? Did I just pee my pants? | Source

What To Do When An HR Investigator Calls

Having been a corporate Human Resources (HR) Investigator for two Fortune 500 companies, I became accustomed to ruining an employee's day with just a simple phone call. It was all quite unfortunate. Really.

Over time, however, I learned how to emotionally distance myself from that part of the job.

Hearing from me often meant an employee was first discovering there was an allegation of misconduct against them. Usually the allegation was serious: harassment, discrimination, theft/fraud, conflict of interest. You get the idea.

Typically, the employee's heart sank. I could tell. Some even joked with me that they felt panic or dread when they saw my number appear on their caller ID, wondering what they had done. Some already knew.

Although I wasn't seeking to ruin anyone's day, asking questions and reaching a finding was just part of my job. Call it a fact-finder.

Now is not the time for emotional displays.  Get control of yourself and present the facts.
Now is not the time for emotional displays. Get control of yourself and present the facts. | Source

Present Your Best Self

There's an old saying: There are always two sides to every story, then there's the truth. So if you've just received that heart-pounding call from HR, how can you present your perspective in the most positive light? After all, here's what could be on the line:

  • your promotability within the company
  • your professional reputation, and
  • even your job.

So wipe the sweat off that brow. A lot is riding on the success of this discussion. You must be ready to present your best self.

Dude, Just Ease Up

Acting angry or defensive is certainly not going to help you during an investigation.
Acting angry or defensive is certainly not going to help you during an investigation. | Source

Stay Calm

When you are contacted by an HR investigator, you may feel a variety of intense emotions:

  • Your head may throb with angry and resentful thoughts of a coworker who has finally escalated an ongoing conflict.
  • You may feel shocked and confused because you have no clue who would want to hurt you this way.
  • You may feel frustrated that HR is wasting your time asking questions about what you feel is a fabricated complaint.

It is normal to have these feelings.

Uh, Oh! What Have I Done Now?

If you feel as surprised as this fish when the HR Investigator calls, stay calm and collect your thoughts.
If you feel as surprised as this fish when the HR Investigator calls, stay calm and collect your thoughts. | Source

Reader Poll

HR Investigators are best described as

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Even Though It's Difficult, Stay Focused On Your Work

While the investigation is ongoing, stay calm and focused on your work and the rest of your life.  Obsessing about the investigation isn't going to help you.
While the investigation is ongoing, stay calm and focused on your work and the rest of your life. Obsessing about the investigation isn't going to help you. | Source

Before You Vent To The Investigator

Before you bend the investigator's ear, however, hold on one minute.

This is an allegation of wrongdoing—a claim without proof at this point. Anyone can allege practically anything. HR has a duty to investigate all claims of inappropriate behavior. Often it's a legal duty, depending on the allegation involved.

As a fact-finder, it is the investigator's role to be neutral, to listen to all relevant parties, review evidence, and then make a determination. You don't want to get all emotional at the person who will decide the outcome of your case, do you?

If you over-react, you could be demonstrating first hand for the investigator that what the complainant says is indeed true (e.g., that you're hot-headed, loud, rude and threatening, emotionally unstable).

When an allegation of misconduct has been made against you, you may feel angry, shocked, confused, resentful, and hurt.  This is normal.
When an allegation of misconduct has been made against you, you may feel angry, shocked, confused, resentful, and hurt. This is normal. | Source

Just Chill

Instead of over-reacting, take a deep breath. Put on your big girl panties (or big boy undies). Use a calm, steady voice to describe your emotional reaction.

For example, you can express that you are:

  • surprised because you're an excellent employee with 10 years of unblemished service with the company
  • disappointed that the complainant did not first attempt to approach you with the problem, or
  • that this is the first you're hearing of a problem (if that is indeed true).

If you believe the investigator will find no merit to the complaint, confidently say so. Commit to full cooperation so that the complaint can be resolved quickly and you can get back to your job.

Just chill.  If you over-react, you could demonstrate first hand for the investigator that what the complainant says is indeed true (e.g., that you're hot-headed, loud, rude and threatening, emotionally unstable).  Don't take the bait.
Just chill. If you over-react, you could demonstrate first hand for the investigator that what the complainant says is indeed true (e.g., that you're hot-headed, loud, rude and threatening, emotionally unstable). Don't take the bait. | Source

What Rights Do You Have?

Employment At-Will

All states except Montana presume employees to be at-will employees, unless their employment is modified by contract.1 Union employees and high-level executives, for example, work under an employment contract.

They Can Do That?

At-will employment means the employer can hire, fire, suspend or discipline an employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason without incurring a legal penalty. In addition, the employer can change the terms and conditions of the working relationship based upon its business needs (e.g., reduce pay and benefits).

The converse of this working relationship is also true: the employee (you) may sever his employment ties should he see fit.

There are several exceptions to the at-will doctrine, such as retaliation or illegal discrimination. An employer cannot legally terminate an employee on account of the employee's sex, national origin, race, religion, color, age, disability, veteran status, or other legally protected status. Exceptions tend to vary by state, so check with the Department of Labor in your state for details.

Relax A Little (But Not This Much)

Okay, don't chill this much.  This is probably what got HR talking to you in the first place.  Wake up, Bob.  Your'e supposed to be running the power plant.
Okay, don't chill this much. This is probably what got HR talking to you in the first place. Wake up, Bob. Your'e supposed to be running the power plant. | Source

The Bottom Line On At-Will Employment

At-will employers have a lot of leeway. Therefore:

  • As long as there is no discrimination or other violation of law, they are not required to maintain fair procedures (although it would be smart to do so).
  • Unlike in criminal court processes, an at-will employee does not have the right to remain silent or to confront his/her accuser.
  • The accused does not have a right to be represented by an attorney.
  • The accused does not have to consent to discipline. Discipline can range from a letter to one's personnel file to discharge of employment.

Don't Automatically Assume You're the Target of the Investigation

Maybe you're the target of the investigation, maybe not.  Play it cool and just answer the questions.  Being difficult during the investigation will raise unnecessary suspicion.
Maybe you're the target of the investigation, maybe not. Play it cool and just answer the questions. Being difficult during the investigation will raise unnecessary suspicion. | Source

If It's Not a Convenient Time to Talk, Then Say So

Say that HR contacts you when it's not a good time to talk—for instance, when you're driving, heading off to a meeting, or when you cannot talk without being overheard.

Don't agree to answer "just a few questions" about a confidential employee matter when you are unable to give the investigator your full, undivided attention. The stakes are too high.

It's also not a good idea to discuss the matter when you have an audience, even if it's your cubicle neighbors. You don't know what the issue is about yet. Your cubicle neighbors could be involved somehow.

We all have one of these in the workplace.  Don't allow curious coworkers to overhear you.
We all have one of these in the workplace. Don't allow curious coworkers to overhear you. | Source

Reader Experience Poll

Have you ever been accused of wrongdoing in the workplace?

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What To Tell the Investigator

If you are in an environment where others can overhear you, offer to call the investigator back from a private location such as an unoccupied conference room or empty office.

If you don't have time to talk, politely tell the investigator that you are a heading off to a meeting (or whatever the case), and offer to reschedule. If the investigator nevertheless presses you to continue the conversation, push back with the statement that "the investigation is important to us both, and you deserve my full attention."

Above all, be professional and courteous.

You Say I've Done What? Seriously?

If you're meeting in person with the HR Investigator, try to control your body language.
If you're meeting in person with the HR Investigator, try to control your body language. | Source

Humanize Yourself As the Person Complained About (PCA)

A person who has an allegation filed against them is called a Person Complained About (PCA). When an HR Investigator meets with the PCA, she has typically already met with the Complainant.

She's heard the ugly details about your alleged misbehavior. In addition, the Complainant probably has also shared any history of the relationship between you two. At this point, the investigator usually has a lop-sided picture characterization of the PCA as an awful employee, mean coworker, and spiteful human being.

But thankfully, she is calling you to talk with you personally.

Put Your Best Foot Forward With the Investigator

Establish a rapport with the investigator, make sure she knows your work history and positive relationships with others, and remain calm.  Then just relay your side of the conflict.
Establish a rapport with the investigator, make sure she knows your work history and positive relationships with others, and remain calm. Then just relay your side of the conflict. | Source

Establish A Personal Connection With the Investigator

You must disabuse the investigator of the Complainant's negative characterizations of you as an evildoer. Understand that going into your interview the Investigator has heard a one-sided story. You need to tip the scales in your favor.

Use all the charm you have in your personal toolbox. You're not just another "case" or PCA. Instead, ensure that she perceives you as an employee who made an honest mistake — or as someone who has been terribly misunderstood, falsely accused, etc.

Establish a warm rapport early on so that the investigator sees you as a human being. Look for similarities between you both. Engage in brief small talk, as appropriate, without delaying the investigation (e.g., "I remember you. Didn't you previously work in the HR Benefits department?").

To counter your negative portrayal by the Complainant, you can also interject relevant information about your work history and relationships with others throughout the conversation.

For example, if this is the first complaint against you, calmly say so. If there is someone who repeatedly files unsubstantiated complaints against you, volunteer that information and ask for the investigator's help.

Establish a connection with the HR Investigator so that she knows you as a person, not just as a PCA.

If You Think All Complaints Have Merit, Think Again

Not all complaints have merit. I typically substantiated about one-third of the complaints I investigated. This was in line with company norms and industrial averages.

Some of the more vivid examples of unsubstantiated complaints included:

  • Anonymous allegations of drug abuse, foul and abusive language, and egregious sexual misconduct against the least likely of subjects (e.g., a very straight-laced employee).
  • Claims by an employee's ex-husband that a manager used sexual harassment to "lure" the man's ex-wife and many other women away from their spouses. The jealous ex-husband had a record of following her and making unfounded allegations.
  • A co-worker's repeated complaints that her entire work group was spying on her, pranking her work station, hiding key documents, and trying to make her think she was "crazy." The woman eventually disclosed that she suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and was off her medication.

A professional investigator will approach each investigation with an open mind. He or she will review the facts and reach a decision based on the evidence. Cases are often not what they seem to be at first blush.

Don't Treat the Investigator As Your Opponent

Your investigator is neither your opponent nor your friend.  They should be a neutral party.  Treat them as a business party who is doing their job.
Your investigator is neither your opponent nor your friend. They should be a neutral party. Treat them as a business party who is doing their job. | Source

Gather Information

You may feel like you are in the dark about the complaint against you. The investigator may withhold some important details about the complaint (e.g., who complained, the exact nature of the complaint, what witnesses have been talked to).

Thus, try to gather information from the HR Investigator in a non-confrontational manner. Ask her, "What can you tell me about why we are here?" or "What can you tell me about the complaint against me? I've never been through this before."

Listen carefully to her response and ask details, clarifying when you can (e.g., "So am I being accused of sexual harassment?") Be sensitive when she's ready to move on, however. All complaints have to be investigated, and you might just be blowing the situation out of proportion.

It's No Fun Being Under the Microscope

Being called by an HR Investigator can make you feel like your behavior is under the microscope.  Remember, it's an allegation.  Just present your side.
Being called by an HR Investigator can make you feel like your behavior is under the microscope. Remember, it's an allegation. Just present your side. | Source

Before your conversation ends, be sure you understand the following:

  • The investigator's name, phone number, and email address
  • What the investigation process involves
  • The expected time frame for resolving the complaint
  • How you will know when the matter is resolved and who will notify you
  • Whether it is simply "business as usual" while the investigation is ongoing
  • Whether you are permitted to speak with anyone else about the investigation (e.g., spouse, boss, co-workers, clergy, therapist, etc.).

Reader Perspective

If you had a complaint against you, could you get a fair hearing from your HR department?

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Help Resolve Your Complaint

Communicate clearly, suggest witnesses, address motive, and provide evidence.
Communicate clearly, suggest witnesses, address motive, and provide evidence. | Source

Make the Investigator's Job Easy

Although this is the only complaint you are involved in, the investigator probably has a docket of many other cases. Thus, you can help yourself by making her job as easy as possible.

Communicate Clearly

Offer precise times and dates when possible. Answer the investigator's questions directly. Be succinct. If you don't know the answer or don't remember, say so. Guessing could backfire on you.

Establish Your Credibility

The investigator is determining your credibility as you speak with her. Ask yourself:

  • Do you make misstatements then correct yourself upon further questioning?
  • Do you verbally attack the complainant, witnesses, or others who are discussed during the investigation?
  • Do you acknowledge your own shortcomings or your role in a conflict (especially if it's obvious)?
  • Are you attempting to bully the investigator? (Not a good move, especially if you're being investigated for alleged bullying behavior!)

As an investigator, there have been PCAs that have impressed me with their candor and maturity. Rather than denying knowledge of the alleged behavior, they immediately owned up to it, said they regretted their actions, and told me why. This short-circuited the investigation.

Workplace Conflicts Are Headaches Indeed

If you're stressed out during the course of the investigation, consult a qualified counselor or therapist.  Talk to someone you can trust about what you're going through.
If you're stressed out during the course of the investigation, consult a qualified counselor or therapist. Talk to someone you can trust about what you're going through. | Source

Address Motive

Understand the difference between making a false allegation—that is, deliberately lying about your actions—and simply misunderstanding your behaviors or intentions. Sample reasons for false allegations include revenge, bullying, and romantic relationships gone wrong.

If the allegation is a misunderstanding, can you help the investigator reasonably explain away your actions?

If instead you assert that the Complainant has filed a false allegation, answer the investigator's burning question: "Why?" The investigator is interested in what motive would compel someone to fabricate a complaint against you. Messing with someone's livelihood is a pretty mean thing to do.

Provide the Names of Corroborating Witnesses

When relevant, suggest the names of witnesses who can corroborate your story. Specifically state what the value of the witness is to the investigation. For example:

"Mary Smith and John Green can both tell you that during our team meeting on July 15 between 2-3:00 p.m., the Complainant specifically told the group that she was not offended by my comment."

Offer Supporting Evidence

Provide the investigator any important evidence that supports your point of view. Examples include emails, performance and training documents, voice mails, etc. When possible, transfer such documents to her over email. (You may need proof you supplied it.)

Sometimes you may also have evidence that points in the opposite direction of your guilt (called "contrary indicators"). For a discrimination claim, for example, you may not have promoted the Complainant, but if for example, you recommended her for an award and appointed her to a key committee, then that tends to refute your discriminatory intent. Offer the information.

Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

What nonverbal signals are you sending to the investigator?
What nonverbal signals are you sending to the investigator? | Source

Watch Red Flag Behavior

Whether they are meeting with you in person or talking with you over the phone, investigators are alert for red flag behavior.

Here is a quick overview of facial and body expressions as well as other behaviors that could indicate a problem, particularly when you exhibit them as a part of a pattern:

  • defensive postures: arms folded tightly in front of your chest, hands in pockets, hiding hands
  • signs of deception: rapid blinking, lack of eye contact, touching your face a lot, heavy sweating, fidgeting, nervous swallowing
  • dominating behaviors: loud tone of voice, interrupting, swearing, frequent repetition, glaring, invasion of personal space, pounding fists, pointing, attempting to take notes on the investigator during the investigation
  • passive behaviors: becoming quiet and withdrawn, slumping posture
  • deflecting responsibility: "dropped" calls at critical points in the conversation (if this interview is via phone); counter complaints; you blame everyone else

Exhibiting these behaviors won't further your cause.

If You Are Guilty, Go Ahead and Just Take Your Lumps

If you have engaged in misconduct, it will likely come out during the course of the investigation.  Lying will only complicate the matter.
If you have engaged in misconduct, it will likely come out during the course of the investigation. Lying will only complicate the matter. | Source

If You're Guilty

Some of the most unfortunate situations have involved employees who lied during the course of the investigation, often out of embarrassment or fear of repercussions. For example, more than once I have encountered a star employee who turned a minor violation into a terminable offense by lying about it.

These folks didn't have to get themselves fired. People make mistakes in both their personal and professional careers, and they could have simply owned up to it. Whether through security videos, time card records, multiple witnesses to the contrary, or recantations of your previous statements, evidence will often make it obvious that you lied.

Being lied to is an assault on one's integrity, and the investigator does not appreciate it. If you have engaged in misbehavior and are tempted to lie to cover it up, take your lumps. Own up to what you've done and move on, whatever that involves. You could be out of a job regardless, but at least your integrity will be intact.

My experience as an investigator is that eventually the truth has a way of catching up with people.

A Stressful Experience, But It Will Be Over Soon

Being involved in an HR investigation at work can be a stressful experience.  Try to stay as focused as possible and take care of yourself physically and emotionally.
Being involved in an HR investigation at work can be a stressful experience. Try to stay as focused as possible and take care of yourself physically and emotionally. | Source

Summary

Allegations of misconduct in the workplace can happen to anyone. Now that it has happened to you, commit yourself to seeing that the complaint is resolved quickly and fairly. Put your best foot forward during the investigation using the following tips:

  • Stay calm rather than venting emotionally. The HR investigator is not your therapist.
  • If the investigator contacts you at an inconvenient time, ask up front to reschedule.
  • Connect with the investigator so that she sees you as a person, not just a PCA (person complained about).
  • Gather key bits of information about the complaint, the process, and the follow-up.
  • Help resolve the complaint by communicating clearly, establishing your credibility, addressing motive, and offering both evidence and the name of any witnesses.
  • Watch red flag behaviors that could trip you up.
  • If you are guilty, be an adult and just take your lumps.

Good luck!

Notes

1Guerin, Lisa. "Employment At Will: What Does It Mean?" Nolo.com. Accessed September 20, 2013. http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/employment-at-will-definition-30022.html.

2Lucas, Suzanne. "I was falsely accused at work -- now what?" CBS News. Last modified January 16, 2013. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505125_162-57564213/i-was-falsely-accused-at-work-now-what/.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • Where do I find a lawyer who will defend me against false accusations of a hostile work environment? In my situation, it is all my word against theirs, and the investigator took stock in their word and not mine. I believe they collaborated and got their stories together before their interviews. I did not have that opportunity. I am in a situation where the management wants me gone anyway, so I feel like this was a sanctioned hit.

    First, be aware that most companies do not permit attorneys or anyone else to represent an employee during an internal investigation. The exception will be being represented by your union steward if you work under a collective bargaining agreement (labor contract). You can always ask, but expect to be turned down.

    Even so, an attorney consultation may help you to assess the strength of your case and provide specific legal advice. The lawyer can be especially helpful if the company fires you or otherwise severs your employment.

    Alternatively, if you later file for unemployment or file an external complaint with a government agency such as the EEOC, the lawyer can be helpful in arguing on your behalf. (They are NOT required; you can always represent yourself. However, they know the process better and can be your paid advocate.)

    If looking for an attorney, you're looking for one who specializes in employment/labor law. The best source is a reliable person you know and trust who is an attorney or paralegal himself/herself. Ask for a word-of-mouth recommendation. If you can't get that, try www.lawyers.com or www.findlaw.com and look for an employment attorney who is licensed to practice in your state. These types of sites provide names and details on attorneys in your area. You want someone who represents plaintiffs/employees.

  • Can I record the conversation with an investigator?

    Technically yes you "can," as it's easy to do on any smartphone or iPad, for example. What you're really asking, however, is SHOULD you?

    I would emphatically advocate that you 1) become aware of any company policy explicitly forbidding such behavior and 2) know your state law. If you're talking via telephone to an investigator who is out-of-state (i.e., at a corporate office or another facility), then you need to know where they are physically located as well. You'd be dealing with multiple states' laws in that situation.

    Why is location important? Some states require that all parties have to consent to recording a conversation, whereas others require that only one party needs to consent (even if that person is you, the one doing the recording).

    There are currently 12 states (California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington) that are two-party consent states. Often, company policies forbid all surreptitious recording on company property or in the course of company business; this may be much more restrictive than state law, and you could end up losing your job for violating company policy, if caught. Be smart about your choice.

    As an alternative to surreptitious recording, you might try thoroughly documenting your conversation right after it ends. (Doing so during the meeting is perceived as hostile. It's also hard to answer the interviewer's questions and also document the conversation.) Focus on your performance during the investigation interview instead. Get as much as the conversation verbatim while it's fresh in your memory. Or ask the investigator for a copy of their notes, if s/he'll supply them. Most won't, but hey, it's worth a shot!

  • Is it legal to fire someone if they were accused of sexual harassment without an investigation by HR? If HR receives a sexual harassment claim or racial comments claim, do they have a legal obligation to speak to the person accused?

    HR has a legal and ethical obligation to do a fair and impartial investigation of alleged employee wrongdoing. If they fail to do so, they open the company up to potential wrongful discharge claims as well as other risks. For example, suppose there were multiple incidents, victims, or harassers that an investigation could have revealed? Sometimes, albeit not commonly, there are special circumstances and an investigation may not include the alleged harasser. For example, if the employee is new and in a probationary period the company may automatically dismiss him/her; if a group witnessed the incident or if the incident was caught on camera it may be fairly clear, etc.

    Be sure that you know why you were fired (i.e., for sexual harassment rather than refusal to participate in an investigation). When you are discharged, request the specific reason for your termination, how that was determined, and a rationale for why you were not permitted to participate in the investigation to provide your perspective. File an immediate appeal with the company (you can try to do this even before you are fired), including a letter to the top executive. If that doesn't work, file for unemployment and argue that you were unfairly discharged.

  • My co-worker filed a false harassment claim against me which was not substantiated by an investigation. Should I now file a claim against my co-worker for falsely claiming harassment?

    The investigation failed to substantiate your co-worker's complaint, so the matter is considered closed. Unless you're convinced that your coworker brought the complaint in bad faith (and if that were the case, I assume you would have raised it during the investigation, right?) then move on. You need to focus on moving forward, and that includes not retaliating against the person who brought the complaint.

  • I work in a healthcare facility. My coworker has accused me of abusing a resident, but she did not document it. It is therefore just her word versus mine. How will the truth be determined?

    It is not uncommon to see situations like this involving one employee making an allegation against another in which the only evidence provided is one's word that misconduct happened. In that situation, an investigator must review the case, determine the credibility of both parties, and determine who is telling the truth. Note that a workplace is NOT a court of law and therefore does not abide by a standard of "proof beyond a reasonable doubt."

    Here are several factors that an investigator assesses in determining credibility:

    1) Inherent plausibility: Is the account believable on its face? Does it make sense?

    2) Demeanor: Does the person seem to be telling the truth or lying?

    3) Motivation to lie: Does the person have a reason to lie?

    4) Corroboration: Are there witness accounts such as those by eye-witnesses, people who saw the person soon after the alleged incidents, or people who discussed the incidents with him or her at around the time that they occurred? This includes social media posts. Is there physical evidence such as bruises on the resident that corroborates the person’s testimony?

    5) Past record: Did the person complained about (PCA) have a history of similar behavior in the past?

    If the resident is in a position to speak for him or herself, that could be particularly important, as well as any physical evidence on his/her body.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 weeks ago from USA

      "The Bad Guy" - If you have not violated any work rules, your coworker has an uphill battle. You have the gift of being able to keep your stress on the inside so take a real deep breath and "kill 'em with kindness." It's hard to hate a guy smiles, calls you by name, asks how your family is, always says good morning, and is the nicest guy to know. You can do this to everyone or take a couple of more "neutral" co-workers and begin to work on them.

    • profile image

      "The Bad Guy" 

      3 weeks ago

      Hello FlourishAnyway,

      Thank you for all of your responses to the other posters, it's allowed me a sense of vulnerability to explain my case. I have not had a grievance/complaint filed against me but I believe that I may have one coming and I would like to get my little ducks in a row. Long story short (maybe not so short) I started a position and it has been drama since the beginning, I found out from my prior supervisor that the employee in my position prior to me had been transferred from another worksite to this site and was switched back to his original site and caused him to file a lawsuit against my employer. What makes this pivotal in this scenario is I believe this has alot to do with why some may dislike me in my work environment, perhaps they knew the guy and I am also a newbie coming in making more $. When I had resigned from my ex-employer and the current employer told me that I did not have a job, and that there was a hold on my position, AFTER I had given my old employer a resignation letter and they confirmed a start date so I was pretty much in job limbo for 2 weeks... Fast forward they solidified that I was hired and I became well acquainted with coworkers. When I first started at this place there was a distinct line of division between coworkers, side 1 & 2 and a few straggling neutrals. I became close to a coworker on one of those sides while on probation we almost were like work best friends but I think it was a tactic looking back. This particular employee went out on leave for 2 months and when they came back they seemed a bit different. When they came back , I recall we had a conversation with my supervisor that prior to my coming other staff felt that I didn't need to be there and that what I was hired for was not needed and that I was getting paid more than others (about $50-$100 more/month). When 2 staff members were doing the work that is under my job title prior to me being here and whilst.

      I have noticed this same coworker has followed me when I am supervising staff, when I am speaking with customers, often interrupts me when someone directs a question at me as if they knows the answer to the question best, has even raised their voice at me before because they were upset that I wouldn't agree to taking on some of their workload instead I said I would do as I could and as time permitted. I guess they didn't feel that I had a large workload since I don't verbalize my feelings of being overwhelmed. They have also managed to successfully ostracize me from other staff members including interns, since they arrived back from leave I had noticed a tremendous difference in the interns cooperation when given tasks.

      So there's the background but I believe that they are doing all of this to build a case against me and file a grievance and I think they will try to go after my character or unfair workload. I will be honest and say that at times I can be direct when giving information but this is because I've learned in the hard way that in this particular environment you will be ran over if not. I believe that they may be against me to because I was not an ally when they didn't care for the new superior which I didn't either but I don't like to get involved in work politics, I really don't know what the motive is for maybe wanting to start on this but I really have a gut feeling based off of little events that have transpired.... What do you recommend, I've started documenting but I am afraid I've started to late because it started about 6 months ago? By the way, a topper in all of this is we are protected by union and she is well liked by union reps within the office including the grievance rep.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Louder please - I wish you well.

    • profile image

      Louder please 

      6 weeks ago

      Dear FlourishAnyway,

      Thank you for the reply. The gossip was about our coworkers' extra marital affair. HR has not talked to me since and I am just going to play it cool.

      Louder Please

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Peppertree - So I trust that you’re neither 1) a probationary employee who would be subject to discharge for even small infractions during their probationary employment period nor 2) an independent contractor, temporary or seasonal worker, or employed by a third party. In other words, you’re a regular employee of the Company just like your ex-friend who brought the complaint against you.

      You’re free to file an appeal if you disagree with the outcome, process, and/or treatment you receive during an HR investigation. Obviously, if you are represented by a union, connect with your union steward for representation ASAP. An attorney consult may be helpful. I strongly encourage you to start looking for other work while you pursue the described options since the deck seems so stacked against you.

      Appeal to an executive-level decision-maker who has the authority to fix the situation. Consider writing out your complaint and emailing or certify mailing it so that there is a record. Succinctly describe your work history with the company, including your length of employment, performance history, general reputation, and any accolades or other information that make you stand out. Tell how you depend on this job (e.g., single mother of 4 month old), and if you are drug-free -- which I sure hope you are -- then make a HUGE point about that. Note that although you’ve offered to take polygraphs, they’re NOT going to take you up on this (see the Employee Polygraph Protection Act).

      Describe the complainant as well. (If she is a CURRENT user of illegal drugs rather than an ex-addict, it’s vital to correct that misinformation, but you also might want to slip in why you were friends with such an individual.) Summarize the complainant’s convictions, current criminal cases, and her history of illegal drug abuse and legal issues to the extent they are relevant to the current matter. Include the facts of your HR employment case and any supporting evidence you have in your letter. Importantly, supply the names of any fact witnesses (as opposed to character witnesses) who can support your account.

      Describe logically and convincingly WHY it would be so hard to believe the complainant’s account as true. Offer motives for why the complainant would want to frame you. This goes to credibility. Also look up the workplace drug policy and see if the Company is following its own policy.

      Even before you are disciplined/discharged, you can file an HR complaint of your own about the investigator’s failure to adequately investigate the matter (which includes giving you a chance to present your side, being a neutral fact-finder, etc.). Take a look at your employer’s policy on the investigation process and use it to frame your complaint. Specifically, how did the investigator fail to abide by the policy?

      I hope this helps. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Peppertree 

      6 weeks ago

      Thanks for the speedy response! Much appreciated.

      Yes, that is also how I feel..what is missing here!?

      The photo was taken on that day...2 whole months ago...the fact she reports this alleged incident 2 months later didnt seem strange to the investigator.

      The fact that the very NEXT day of alleged incident the complainant was at my house for my birthday with no worries, didnt seem to matter.

      Just to ask, as you are the pro at this, when I log my internal appeal, what approach do I take differently?

      How else can I make it obvious that I am innocent if I am not allowed a polygraph/drug test?

      As an investigator, what would you look for to indicate the complainant is not credible?

      Should I go dig up the details of the current police fraud case she is involved in? Would that matter if I brought it into evidence? To show that that she is capable of such things...

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 weeks ago from USA

      Peppertree - There has to be some information missing here because this just doesn't make sense. (That's probably what you're saying too.) Think about what motive she has to falsely accuse you and frame you.

      One thing I would check if I were the investigator is the date and time of the photo which one can do by looking at its metadata. The investigator would be looking to see that the photo was taken when the complainant said it was (and not in July or last year, for example). Of course, even if the photo was taken on the date/time of the alleged incident this does NOT prove the contents of the photo included illegal drugs or that you offered the container to your former friend. I'd look at the information more as an indicator of credibility to potentially cast doubt on the complainant's allegations.

      As far as options, appeal the termination decision within your company and complain that there was a failure to adequately investigate. If you lose your job, file for unemployment immediately indicating that you were wrongfully discharged.

    • profile image

      Peppertree 

      7 weeks ago

      I have been accused by a colleague of "having drugs on me and offering them to her".

      This colleague and I were best friends and we had a falling out. She claims this incident happened in May. She reports this 2 days ago, end of July.

      She shows a photo she took on her phone of a 'container with drugs in' - which just looks like a small box with cotton woool. She claims I gave her this with drugs in.

      I have never seen this container before. I have a 4 month old child! Not the type to have this!

      In the investigation/inquiry, I told thr investigator I have a clean work record, got character witnesses, explained I am a single mother, why would I jeopordize my job?

      The ex friend then defended saying she saw drug resedue in 'some' of the bathrooms and thinks its me. Also that she saw me a week ago with the same container. And that she stopped speaking to me after alleged incidient in may. Said I gave her the drugs because I know she is an ex-addict.

      The shock! A blatant lie!! I told her so in the meeting!!! I showed the investigator she has been chatting to me online every day almost since the incident.

      How can this be valid? That was the ONLY evidence they had. Its like me taking a random photo of drug container, saying you gave it to me, no other proof, and then im fired!?

      When investigator asked why she would lie and risk her job, i told him beacuse she has done worse before! She is currently involved in fraud cases with the police, how is that a credible witness?

      I said I will take a drug test. They said wont help, that is not the charge. The charge is distribution. I offered to pay for my own polygraph to save my job!! They said nothing.

      End of meeting..investigator said he recommends dismissal as trust relationship broken down...employer HR person agreeed.

      I am left reeling in shock..how can this be allowed to happen when the only evidence is one persons statement?? She doesnt even have the said container! Just a photo she took

      Pls help .....i am so distraught at being the victim of bad blood and the fact I cant do anything to save my job?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 weeks ago from USA

      Louder please - I don't know what type of issue the gossip involved so it's hard to assess the priority, complexity, or HR's investigative workload. It's okay to ask HR about the status of an investigation, too. They may not tell a mere witness.

      HR should be nearing completion about now on the investigation if it's not done already. A complex investigation may take longer. Remember you did NOT tell him about an investigation, and if your behavior tipped him off then it was accidental. You simply didn't want to be exposed to more of his gossip. HR and/or management should have shut the gossip down with references to professional behavior, focusing on work, etc. Evidently they either failed to do this or your coworker is persistent in his rumor spreading habits.

      Both HR and your coworker overreacted. If you didn't do anything, keep repeating your story like a broken record when the relevant party is not listening to you. (There's a reason it's called the "broken record technique.") It would have been better if you had said, "Don't gossip because I don't want to hear it" or "because it's distracting" (rather than "because HR will investigate you") but that's what you meant. I would not expect disciple but if you do receive it, you might consider an appeal to a more reasonable mind. I would refuse to sign any discipline for this issue because it's silly.

    • profile image

      Louder please 

      7 weeks ago

      Dear FlourishAnyway,

      About a month ago I was called in to HR as a witness on something my coworker had said (some gossip). I honestly don't remember that he said that because it was long time ago (2 years according to HR). Last week that same coworker began to gossip about someone so I told him to not gossip because he is going to get investigated by HR. He took that as he is being investigated by HR. Now HR heard about the fact that he how knows about the investigation. HR had heard that I warned him about the investigation. I told HR exactly what I told him about not gossiping or he will be investigated so HR told me to not talk to him about that from now on. Am I in trouble? Am I going to get discipline for this? Is it normal for HR to take this long to investigate?

      Thanks in advance!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 months ago from USA

      Abe - You must be VERY inexperienced to believe that an employee can simply demand that a lawyer be present to represent him or her in an internal company matter. It doesn't work that way, sir.

      Additionally, they wouldn't reasonably consent to the recording of a conversation. Keep in mind, too, that if you record a conversation surreptitiously you may be breaking state wiretapping laws, depending on what state you're in (check to see if your state has a one party vs. two-party consent law). Regardless, many companies have policies that specifically forbid recording of conversations. Rather than make an enemy of the investigator before the thing has started, maybe you should try your best to put your best foot forward. Although there are some crooked HR people an managers, not everyone is like that. You're very cynical.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      3 months ago from USA

      TakingtheL - Oh, wow. First, let’s go over what you did right. You didn’t try to kiss her or make a romantic move. You didn’t undress yourself or her or sleep under the covers. However, you should not have been in that hotel room uninvited. You should not have touched her at all or slept in the bed, stayed with her, monitored her behavior at the bar, etc. as it wasn’t your role as a coworker. If you were concerned for her safety there were other actions you could have taken. If she is your subordinate rather than a coworker this is really an issue because she may have felt you were coercing her to go along. Both of you were representing the company at that conference (yes, even off duty) and should not have had so much alcohol that your judgment could be impaired.

      All this is beside the point now. You’ve been honest about your mistake. (Had you lied they would have had to assess credibility. People do get found out. You did the right thing). Throw yourself at HR’s mercy, and emphasize you are 100% coachable and will learn from this situation. I’d expect some type of discipline regardless and if you’re her boss then serious discipline up to and including termination. Watch the drinking at company events. I wish you well.

    • profile image

      TakingtheL 

      3 months ago

      Hi Flourish, this article was helpful and I'd like to tell my story and get your thoughts. I was just interviewed by HR for a complaint about harassment while at a sales conference in another city. As I was the only other person that she knew well while we were at this bar, I decided to monitor her alcohol intake, and even at one point gave her water since I was fully aware she hadn't eaten a thing all night. We both had quite a bit to drink, and after complaining she didn't feel well, she requested assistance to her hotel room. I was able to get her there, ordered some food to try and help with her upset stomach. Put a trash can by her bed and gave her more water.

      Now unfortunately, when I am under the influence, I get extra white-knighty and concerned for people women or otherwise. I resigned to stay around for 45 mins or so to make sure she didn't vomit, remained on her side etc. I repeatedly asked if she was ok, asked some dumb questions like do you need to change to keep her talking and cognizant. She seemed very panicked that she'd said something to some higher up that could get her in trouble and that she really didn't feel good. I patted her head in consolation, and her shoulder.

      I laid on the very edge of the bed, on top of the covers, fully clothed to brace her so she wouldn't roll on to her back and potentially vomit. I began to watch TV, but eventually drifted off to sleep for a bit. I woke up when she had to go to the bathroom, and realized I had placed my hand on her hip. She went to the bathroom, came back and said we should get some sleep. I packed up her food and put in the fridge and bid her good night.

      The next day, I attempted to check in on her via text, and she responded a couple times, but eventually stopped replying. Turns out she had felt she was touched in an uncomfortable manner and left the conference early to file a complaint.

      Now I was very candid with HR about this instance. I admitted that there was an error in judgement and that I've made her feel uncomfortable and feel genuinely remorseful for ruining a healthy working relationship. They said they appreciated my candor, and would be in touch soon. Like your article said, I didn't lie, as I didn't want to lie, but have I simply shot myself in the foot and cost myself a job because I tried too hard to help? I acknowledged that this is definitely a learning experience and I'd like to rectify my behavior with the company if at all possible and even offered to work remotely or move desks to help her be more comfortable. I'm of course scared for my job, but obviously ready to accept the consequences of my actions. How long do you think my odds are?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

      Bryant - Panera is a favorite public spot for job terminations, performance reviews, disciplinary events, and other potentially disagreeable employment issues. I'm not surprised they did it there.

      Be sure that you understand why you were demoted and whether that harassment allegation was substantiated or not. Does the demotion have anything to do with performance (or an issue outside the investigation)? Regarding not talking to you about the investigation, the Company should have at least interviewed you in the interest of a fair, neutral and thorough investigation. Take a look to see if the company has a policy or statement about how it conducts investigations. (Use their language when complaining.) If they didn't follow it, then file a complaint against the investigator and whoever demoted you that they violated that company policy. I'd argue if I were in your shoes that failure to talk to the person complained about isn't being fair, neutral, or thorough. Rather, it's a rush to judgment. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Bryant 

      4 months ago

      My company demoted me because of a harassment claim without me talking to HR and it was done inside a Panera with just the area manager is this even legal ?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

      Frances - I appreciate your kind endorsement. There are a lot of employees who never expect to be on the other side of the line/desk from the investigator. Have a great week!

    • profile image

      Frances Metcalfe 

      7 months ago

      Hi Flourish. I'm retired now, but fortunately never was on the wrong side of HR, but if I were still employed, this is a very informative article to have in the locker, just in case the situation ever arose.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

      JMC - You asked my opinion, and I hope you'll see that I meant the best for you and your husband. A spouse who seeks to file suit against their husband's good faith accuser and coworker stands little chance of gaining anything other than grief, based on my experience.

      I would consider it highly counterproductive in multiple ways. Look at more productive, positive ways to support him, especially if it was a misunderstanding. If it was a false statement by the accuser, HE should agressively defend himself within the workplace complaint and be ready to offer a credible rationale as to why the accuser would make something up. But that's not what you asked. Good luck.

    • profile image

      JMC 

      7 months ago

      Hello, you had answered the question about suing a spouse’s co-worker for defamation of character, it was a bit brash and not a whole lot of fact based statements. I have a law degree so I am familiar enough with the laws, and I also read his companies handbook which is online for the public. It would be considered retaliation if my husband were to sue the co-worker or company, me entering a civil suit with my name only would not be. This is similar to that of someone being killed and the victims family sues the person responsible. You mentioned the “you weren’t there...” yada yada yada which I am obviously not ignorant to the fact that if he did say whatever he is accused of then I would have no legal grounds, but if they made a false statement or misinterpreted what was said, they need to be held liable. Societies mentality of if you look at someone weird it offends them needs to be brought down, someone making false and damaging statements needs to be held liable for their words and actions.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      8 months ago from USA

      Linda - The key is: did the complainant make the allegation in bad faith -- that is, deliberately, knowingly as a strategy to cause someone else harm? This is the difference, for example, between fabricating a claim and simply getting your information wrong or having an opposite perspective.

    • profile image

      linda 

      8 months ago

      is there no reprecussion for the employee who has made a false alligation about another employee due to self advancement

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

      kouskik - If you're looking at preventing this type of behavior, which seems pretty extensive, it's about implementing employee policies regarding expected professional conduct, proper use of company assets, bullying/harassment and workplace violence, and a confidentiality agreement for each employee at hire. Employees should be expected to immediately report misconduct, investigations should be conducted on alleged misconduct, and discipline should be administered consistently. You might also look at your employee selection procedures.

    • profile image

      koushik 

      13 months ago

      An employee of a company has been sending threating emails to his colleagues, fabricating data, abusing its Internet resources, spying on the company’s confidential data, and has been involved in damaging some computer resources of the company. Mention how the company can minimize damage before such activities take place.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

      Dear help!! – Unfortunately, the probationary period tends to be very strict in that companies are looking for any sign of misbehavior whatsoever. Even so, you should still be afforded due process, depending on what your company policy says.

      Therefore, look at your former employer’s policies or employee handbook regarding investigations, harassment, and probationary periods. I believe you’re right in declining to sign that statement. If it were me, I’d do at least two additional things immediately: file for unemployment and write a BRIEF, professionally worded emailed back to HR saying that you

      1) are shocked and upset with the allegations and the company’s lack of due process, as

      2) you don’t understand what the incidents these allegations might involve and had no opportunity whatsoever to answer the allegations.

      3) Further, you assert now, since you previously did not have the opportunity to answer for yourself before you were unfairly dismissed, that any allegations of “verbal harassment in the forms of jokes, remarks, or comments” are patently FALSE.

      Use your brief, respectful email and relevant policies as exhibits in your unemployment case. You don’t necessarily need an attorney; you can file for unemployment yourself. At the unemployment hearing, you should at least learn more about the allegations so you can decide what to do from there. Most employers do not report details to prospective employers of why a person left (like harassment). Typically, it’s just their dates of employment. Best of luck to you.

    • profile image

      help! 

      13 months ago

      On Tuesday, the HR rep approached me and said that a staff person had filed grievance claim against me and the I must go home immediately and am prohibited from being on the premises until further notice, and that they would be conducting an investigation. I was quite shocked and confused as to what this was about and went home on paid leave. Shortly after I received an email stating that there would be an investigation and I would have full opportunity to share my version of the events and that this was not placing blame on me. Less than 24 hours later, the HR rep called and said I was terminated effective immediately due to "verbal harassment in the form of jokes, remarks and comments" (language used in the letter). There was no specific date or any kind of clarifying information in the termination letter the HR rep sent shortly afterwards. HR rep asked me to sign and return the letter to her. I refused to sign because I don't even know fully what the allegations are. I have also not had any opportunity to defend myself! An allegation of harassment on my record is extremely serious and I am distressed -what can I do?? I believe that HR did not follow due process or a thorough investigation as they did not even ask me any questions or list any specific event. It's also odd because I am still in my 90 day probationary period and they could have just fired me for no reason.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      14 months ago from USA

      Bonsai2003 - I’m so glad your situation worked out. All the best to you.

    • profile image

      bonsai2003 

      14 months ago

      Thank you so much for your advise. He has now claimed that he did not accuse me of harassment and threatening him. I was so grateful that my manager witnessed the incident and submitted a report to HR. HR has assured me that he failed to provide any proof and I should not worry about damaged reputation because no one believed him in the first place. I've calmed down and is indeed playing it cool. Thank you so very much again and God bless you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      14 months ago from USA

      bonsai2003 - It's not standard practice to force an employee to retract allegations that have been unsubstantiated. HR is right about you needing to move on from this. However, to address your specific issue, you can performance manage him. Each time he walks out on you or disregards your management direction, enforce the rules consistently that each employee must abide by. (Consult with your HR rep as needed on this, each step of the way.) Such work rules include insubordination (failing to follow management direction). If you make a big deal by getting visibly angry and upset, you're just giving this guy what he wants, so PLAY IT COOL emotionally, performance manage him and treat him fairly as you would any other employee. Cool heads will prevail over hotheads like him, and you never know -- he could always come around. He's one of those challenging employees that will teach you more about yourself than you were ever seeking to learn as a manager.

    • profile image

      bonsai2003 

      14 months ago

      Hi. My manager and I called a member of my team to a meeting to address the latters unacceptable behaviour. During the meeting I was accused of harassment, threatening him and allowing the rest of my team to "attack" him. These are all untrue. I was very upset and put in complaint to HR and my manager. I asked the matter to be investigated and for the accuser to substantiate his accusations and if he can't he should retract. The accuser initially refused to attend the meetings. When he eventually attended the meeting, HR said that he couldn't not provide any evidence of the accusations but refuses to retract the accusations. He then claimed that I am mistreating him. HR said that they cannot force the staff to retract the accusations. HR said they do not believe him anyway so I should just move on from this. The accuser is not going to be placed on disciplinary. They will just write to him to remind him how he should behave with at work and during meetings etc . No one seem to care that he made accusations like these in the past. It was just fortunate that in this instance my manager was present. Then whilst the investigation is on-going he shouted at the HR director on the phone and said my full name out loud "Celia Smith (not my real name ) is harassing and bullying me!" for every one to hear in an open plan office. I was angry and upset. Do I really just have to move on and get on with my work and forget about the incident. How can I continue supervising someone who refuses to listen to me, aggressive and defensive and walks out on me on meetings?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      ealex - It certainly sounds like you have been the subject of a complaint against you. Only you know whether there was an incident, series of incidents or conflicts, or other reason to give rise to an employee complaint. If not, there obviously is minimal reason to worry because you will simply give your perspective, offer up any other witnesses, and it will be unsubstantiated. If there is actually a valid reason the employee may have complained about sexual harassment, for example, then yes, it is possible that policy violations may include discipline up to and including job discharge. You may want to talk to your boss or HR and just tell them you are confused and are wondering when further information will be forthcoming.

    • profile image

      ealex 

      15 months ago

      Hello, im was recently brought into a conference room without advanced notice. told one of my employees were going to be transferred to a different supervisor. That i was not to talk or see that employee in the meantime, and that further information would be provided later. I was not told what i was going on. Should i worry about my job?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      Mah29001 - Wishing you the best!

    • profile image

      Mah29001 

      15 months ago

      Thank you, I think the person who hired her being a manager also had a similar issue of being a busy body like this with her co-workers. She'd always write emails when she can accuse people of goofing off, even when she herself is regularly on her own cell phone at work too. The manager who originally hired me retired, he's on my reference.

      I sent a thank you letter card to the person who interviewed me for the Department of Justice. Hopefully something good will come about this, I'm open for other agencies like the Department of Business Oversight, will do the same process with them as well.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      Mah29001 - Hopefully, if you were not sleeping on the job, then the investigation was closed as unsubstantiated so that you're not penalized in the job search process within state government when they go to check references. It sounds like with your work environment, finding a more positive coworker group is the best thing you can do for yourself. If she is indeed the source of the problem, they'll see that she won't be able to get along with your replacement either (or the replacement after that). Eventually a trend will be recognized. Jerks abound. Best of luck! Thank you cards do make you stand out!

    • profile image

      Mah29001 

      15 months ago

      Very informative article. I was accused of falsely sleeping, found out it was the Office Technician who falsely accused the deed, I'm already going through at least five interviews of different jobs.

      She purposely makes it difficult for me each day, I think the person who hired her also didn't like me. Often she'd look over my shoulder, or make annoying comments to me which I do not like. She doesn't really understand how the file room works or worked when the managers wanted it in a certain way. She was hired by a manager who retired end of last year. I think both might have obsessive compulsive disorder, not that everyone with OCD would do this to other employees.

      My employer is a state agency, I'm searching for a job within the state. I'm sending a thank you card to the person who had me for the interview last Wednesday, still time. They say they'd make the decision by July 1st or so. I'm hoping the thank you card and the thank you email would be enough to show I'm interested in the job.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      YoungandScared - You have a right to express your opinion, but you also need to know that doing so often carries consequences. You didn't say what you were expressing an opinion about exactly. For example, if you were expressing an opinion about something racist or sexist or your language was laced with a lot of profanity, there is very likely a company policy that forbids such speech. If you were downtalking a management change, a company policy, or an individual manager, that may not be smart if overheard but I'm not sure they'd fire you for it. It just won't earn you points.

      While on company property, ALWAYS assume that you are being listened to and watched and presume what you write and look up on company-owned devices is being monitored.

      If you feel you did nothing wrong, simply tell the truth, say that you were involved in a private discussion with a coworker (if that was the case), and maintain that you do not recall saying what you're accused of saying by the eavesdropper. Obviously, they'll ask the other party or parties involved in your discussion. Hopefully, the comments were welcome and the discussion was two-way rather than heated and all you. The best you can hope for is that s/he doesn't recall what you allegedly said either or s/he gives an account that conflicts with the eavesdropper.

      From now on, remember that the workplace is not a bar or club where you can freely discuss bawdy topics or debate politics or religion. Have any potentially offensive conversation outside of work where you cannot be overheard by nosey coworkers or customers.

    • profile image

      YoungandScared 

      15 months ago

      I am under investigation currently because I was over heard voicing my opinion and the co-worker who over heard it decided to use it against me. I am confused as to why I am under investigation because I have a right to my opinion, I didn’t threaten anyone or act in an aggressive way but I’ve been told they’re investigating me because they feel I’ve created a hostile working environment, I have no idea what’s going on or what to do, I don’t even remember saying the thing I am accused of saying so now I’m afraid it looks like I am lying to the HR investigators and I will be fired. I’m terrified and I haven’t been able to sleep or eat since it happened.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      Omri00 - Consider being super gracious to your boss and giving the 4 weeks notice, adding how much you've enjoyed working for the company. Also toot your own horn some about the value that you believe you've added while you were there. When you hand in your resignation, verbally you may mention to your boss that one individual in particular may not understand your role and has been verbally badmouthing you which has added to your decision to leave a bit early. However, you want to leave on a positive note and wrap up your projects, leaving them in a good place for her and the company. Good luck in graduate school.

    • profile image

      Omri00 

      16 months ago

      Thank you for the advice FlourishAnyway. I was actually planning on resigning from this position at the end of June (I’m going to Grad School in August)….. but that was before I caught wind of the HR situation and now things are complicated. What do you think if I move forward with my original plan and hand in my resignation in the next day or two and don’t mention the HR case against me? At this point, no one is aware that I know what’s going on, and I would like my boss to know that I plan on leaving as soon as possible. I want her to read my letter of resignation where I thank her for adding me to the team and for playing a guiding role in my professional development. I won’t get that chance if I suddenly get called into HR and they decide to fire me. Maybe I can state in the letter that I would like to offer a 1-month period of notice instead of the standard 2 weeks, and then suggest to my boss that she checks with HR to see if they’re okay with me staying? At that point HR would probably have to make some sort of decision to either drop my case and let me leave peacefully or show me the door, right? Maybe that’s a terrible idea, I just don’t know how to quit amicably at this point and I don’t want my boss to speak out needlessly on my behalf if she doesn’t have to. Or I don’t know maybe the best course of action is just to stop trying to strategize and just tell her what I’ve been overhearing and then tell her I’m handing in my resignation early to avoid further drama and because I want to have the time to wrap up important projects before I leave? That’s kind of a combination of what you recommended to me before but with the addition of also giving my notice. Let me know what you think, and thanks again for taking time out of your day to respond to these blog posts, you have very insightful advice.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      Readmikenow - It's so easy to shift the blame on the temps or the new person. Glad it worked in your favor. I think you were correct in not taking the full-time job. It doesn't sound like a healthy work environment. Thanks for sharing the incident.

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 

      16 months ago

      Very well written article and very informative. It made me remember an incident years ago. I and a girl from a temp agency were working on a project. One day after a few months of nothing but complements we were called into a manager's office and accused of doing some careless things. We were baffled. So, a person offered to research what we said to see if it was true. What actually happened is that some of the company's employees had made some bad mistakes and instead of admitting to it, they worked to blame it on the two temps. It was quite an effort. In the end, some employees were let go and we were offered to go full time at the company. I declined and the woman with me accepted. She still works there. Enjoyed reading this.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      Omri00 - Do say something to your boss. People obviously don't understand your role or work arrangement, but it's unprofessional behavior regardless. You can defend your work and your work ethic matter-of-factly. Next time you hear your rude, loud coworker, you might get up and tell your coworker politely that you can hear her and please if she's going to disparage others at least make it fact-based. Alternatively, you could arrange a conversation with her rather than waiting for the next disparaging verbal attack of you. Most importantly, you have some significant wage and hour issues about how you are classified (hourly paid rather than salaried) to address with HR if and when they make an issue for you. Begin tracking your real time privately. Your boss needs to stand behind you on this.

    • profile image

      Omri00 

      16 months ago

      I'm a Graphic Designer. I believe there is an HR complaint that was filed against me recently based on perceived attendance issues and laziness. I only found out about this complaint because the employee who filed it against me has been loudly bad-mouthing me to other employees (within ear-shot of me) for the last two weeks. She must have had about 3-4 separate conversations with at last 3 different people in which she loudly discussed how I am always on facebook and instagram, that I'm lazy, and have been coming to work 2 hours late. I've basically pretended not to hear her because I am not a confrontational person and I find her to be difficult to be around. I'm not super concerned about her claims that I'm lazy or that I'm spending time on social media. I don't think she's aware that 50% of my job as a designer is designing content for our social media accounts, so I'm on those sites every day. What does concern me is the time allegations. I am technically an hourly employee and I was late one morning a few weeks ago. Typically my boss is okay if we need a little wiggle room in the mornings time-wise. On this particular morning one of my project manners called my desk first thing in the morning to have something emergency-printed for a press conference she was having. This was a very unusual occurrence and hasn't happened before, so I had no way of knowing my lateness would cause me to miss the call. One of my fellow designers starts an hour earlier than I do and she was able to print the sign for my project manager no problem. This is typically what we do when one of us is out, we will grab each-other’s projects and move them to completion no problem. I didn’t even find out this incident occurred until the next day when I got an email from that project manager asking me to update the artwork file so that the edits would be saved on file for our next event. I have a good working relationship with this project manager and she said “not to sweat it” in the email so I assumed the matter was settled. If she had been upset I would have asked my boss what to do, but since it seemed like it was taken care of I let it go. Unfortunately the employee that filed the complaint with HR somehow found out about this situation and she WAS upset.

      The only other thing I’m worried about is my status as an “hourly” employee. The thing is, I'm the only designer on our team that is classified as hourly, and it's due to a technicality. My boss told me this on day one, and has been treating me like the other salaried designers, so the way I do my time punches is a lot more lackadaisical than other more traditional hourly employees. I don’t need to be at my desk to do my design work (I have a laptop) and I don’t typically make or receive many calls. When I do, I can make them from my cell phone or text my project mangers so I’m not usually using my desktop landline. Furthermore, if I’m on a deadline at 5:00pm when I usually punch out and I need to get something done before the next morning, I’m going to stay regardless of when my scheduled punch-out time is. So a lot of times I end up punching out at 5:00pm and then staying late anyways. This is also why I am in 30 minutes later some mornings or why I leave 30 minutes later some days. It’s all a balancing act and I’m doing my best to comply w/ punching, but my position wasn’t really built for hourly tracking. I’ve also punched in from my phone on my way to work on a few occasions to balance out my timecard. But there are cameras in our building….. so surely they should be able to see that I also stay late all them time? I come in earlier and stay later than many of the people that sit in my row, and my fellow designers each have a work from home day that I do not have.

      What do you think I should say when HR questions me? If they question my project manager who had the emergency print job and she confirms that this was not an crisis for her, will they drop it? I don’t think my boss even knows any of this is going on. Maybe it would help if I say something to her.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      Unique Soul - I wish you all the best.

    • profile image

      UniqueSoul 

      16 months ago

      Thank you so much for responding and advice. Yes, it was the same person that complained twice I believe, if anyone else complained I was not made aware of anything until this point.

      I've come to terms with what is most likely going to happen. I know that I can not control ones perception nor what they say. I believe that I've done the right thing for the right reason and will prevail. I have a solution focused management style and I am big on self management and accountability. I base my decisions of off facts not feelings. I haven't been presented with facts just emotions and now it feels as if they are searching for something. Yes I am shocked, but this shall pass as well. The company does have a performance improvement plan, I've never been presented with issues regarding my performance, and all of my performance reviews were 4.5 out of 5 or higher. Last year my review was 4.8, I was truly humbled and teared up b/c my boss thought so highly of me.

      I do agree, I should have asked more questions but I was definitely in shock. I've been on administrative leave with pay since 5/8. Per my letter, they initiated this action to determine how to best proceed with addressing concerns raised by a number of employees regarding my leadership style and personal conduct. I am meeting with our FSAP therapist as well and planning my next plan of action.

      Thank you for the reference to the next steps article, it was helpful.

      I appreciate you and your assistance!

      Uniquesoul

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      UniqueSoul - This must be very stressful on you. (I won't elaborate that much of this situation stems from celebrating birthdays -- no good deed goes unpunished -- and one staff member's apparent money issues are so tight she cannot contribute an agreed upon amount, she must ask for reimbursement of what amounts to pocket money, then lie about your refusal to reimburse the unauthorized overage spent.)

      I wasn’t clear on whether this same individual made the first and second complaints. You may not know. Here’s the damning catch: 1) If different people made these two separate management style complaints, then a slanted HR person could automatically choose to see it as a so-called pattern across different staff members. 2) If the same person made the complaints, then allegations of retaliation might be in play.

      Regardless, based on the details you provided, it seems like a rush to judgment or preconceived result IF you’ve never had any prior complaints or concerns – formal or informal – voiced about your performance and leadership style. Signs of leadership trouble can often surface in indicators such as exit interviews, high turnover, high complaints/grievances, organization-wide surveys, etc. Was your HR department doing ANY of this routine HR work all along to monitor the morale of the organization since that’s what they allege they care so much about? If so, was there any sign of trouble regarding your style during your 8 years of managing? It’s hard to imagine that you developed an issue out of the blue after that length of time IF not only you were doing the right things but so were they.

      Your HR department seems like it’s dealing more with feelings and perceptions rather than actual behavior. If I were the person accused, I would have wanted to know what the allegations are so that I could offer my own side/rebuttal and how long the investigation will last. Sadly, you don’t seem to be clear on what you did wrong exactly, even after this so-called leadership coaching. And you seemed surprised that an investigation was still ongoing when you went on vacation. The beginning and end of an investigation should have been made clear. I’d also have everything documented, including the initial incident, any follow-up conversations, emails/phone calls; include who you talked to, who else was involved or witnessed the event, what was agreed to, etc.

      If HR told you to consult a leadership coach before the investigation was even complete, that was inappropriate and a likely signal of where this investigation was going. Given the aggressive timetable, how were you supposed to have time to get assessed and then implement their coaching? Seriously, the coaching was only a few weeks ago and you had a vacation in there, too! I hope you have notes or assessment results from your coaching sessions. (I have an inkling that your leadership coaching was pretty generic, conversational only, and provided by an in-house HR person.)

      Furthermore, interviewing 20 people (ALL of your staff?!?) is overkill for an HR investigation. What about YOUR privacy as an employee accused of wrongdoing – someone who is being investigated? Asking everyone about your management style seems like confirmation bias – looking for proof that one is correct in one’s assumption.

      And by the way, HR’s math isn’t working which isn't a surprise here. I don’t see a way that they could come up with a statistic of “46% were looking for another job” when they interviewed 20 people. While that statistic seems like "proof" of how terrible you are as a manager, is HR aware that MOST employees are actively searching for another job? And do they realize that MOST employees are either not engaged in their work or are actively disengaged (i.e., unenthusiastic about their work and dissatisfied)? That’s admittedly a poor defense of your own alleged poor management style, but it just goes to show how there are lies, damned lies, and statistics. They need to do a better job than this.

      Your HR department is trying not-so-cleverly to use statistics to apparently say you have a performance problem. Does your organization have an established performance evaluation and improvement process that they’re trying to skip? That’s what it seems like based on what you’ve presented.

      You might consider what could be motivating this treatment of you. For example: Is there illegal bias involved (sex, race, national origin, religion, disability, age, veteran status, etc.)? Have you raised a complaint in the past and this is your payback? Do the troublemakers on your staff have personal relationships with the HR investigator?

      I’m sure you realize that by asking for your keys, badge, computer, etc. this situation is likely headed towards job termination, right? I'm sorry to say that. Your immediate options at this point include the following:

      1) simply wait to have the company take action

      2) consult an attorney for a brief discussion of your case

      3) file a complaint regarding the lack of neutrality of the HR investigator and any other complaints that you deem appropriate.

      While you’re waiting, you might as well get a jump start on some of the action steps you’ll need to take if/when you become unemployed: https://hubpages.com/finding-job/12-Action-Steps-t...

      I hope this information has helped you. Be strong and don't let this break you.

    • profile image

      UniqueSoul 

      16 months ago

      Afternoon Flourish - Thank you for the informative article, it was full of knowledge I needed to read today:). I am a Director responsible for 17 staff members of which 3 report to me directly. My team grew rapidly from 5-17 with two years. I have been in my position for over 4 yrs and with the company for a little over 8 yrs. If asked what keeps me up at night, my answer is retention and hiring accountable individuals. My 3 direct reports, are phenomenal and outstanding leaders. I know of my staff (remaining 14) but I do not know them like my 3 direct reports (consists of 2 supervisors and 1 senior staff). In March one of my staff made an HR complaint stating that my tone was offensive, harsh, overbearing etc. This came about b/c one of the staff who I would joke with and developed a professional relationship with was caught off guard when I did not support her story of lies. Our team had a retreat and the team decided that they wanted to organize how we celebrated birthdays. The team came up with the idea of developing 4 committees that represented quarter 1-4 and each committee would be responsible for organizing the birthdays that occur during those months. The team also agreed that everyone on the team would donate 20.00 towards the birthday celebrations (5.00 for decorations and 15.00 for a birthday cake or lunch for ea. team member). They appointed 2 treasurers and that was that. I was excited b/c they addressed a concern, came up with their own solution, and implemented it. I too participated and offered to assist financially if anyone could not contribute but since they all agreed to, I didn't foresee any issues. One of my staff spent over the 5.00 allotted for decorations, she asked if she'd be compensated and I reminded her of the agreement that was made as a team. I said that she'd be reimbursed the 5.00 because that's all we budgeted for. She said that she understood and stated it was ok b/c she enjoyed decorating. The following week, the same staff person went to one of the treasurers who is 1 of my direct reports and stated that I said she could be reimbursed for 25.00. The treasurer wanted to confirm with me first so they both came to my office so that the treasurer could clarify. I reminded the staff member of our conversation the week prior and she stated she misunderstood but quickly seemed unbothered. The two left my office only to return seconds later. The treasurer stated that not everyone had contributed their 20.00, I asked who did not. She looked at the staff member and they both stared at me. Finally the treasurer said to me, the staff member that was standing in my office did not pay their 20.00. I asked the staff member if paying was a problem and she said no and that she never has cash on her. I then asked her if she'd like for me to contribute for her, she then stated, no....I will bring cash. They both left out of my office. After the encounter I thought it was quite odd but I moved on with my day. The treasurer came to my office and apologized for the awkwardness and I asked her to type of the situation from her perspective and then send it to me so that we have it documented. I did the same and then saved it on my computer. I called in the staff to make sure she was ok and she said that she was and wanted to know for the team that if anyone was to leave would they get their 20.00 back, I stated I didn't see why not but we could discuss it at our next team meeting. I then asked her if she was planning on leaving and she said no, she was just asking for the team. I said oh ok, well you were the only one that hadn't contributed so I just wanted to make sure you weren't asking for yourself. I also addressed the misunderstanding of her thinking she'd be reimbursed for more than 5.00 for the decorations. She became defensive and stated she didn't appreciate my tone and that she didn't want to talk anymore. She left my office and I assumed she went to HR b/c she was gone for about 90 min. The next day I pulled her and her supervisor into my office to make sure the staff was ok. She again stated that she didn't like my tone and that she felt I was overbearing and harsh, I apologies that she perceived it that way and stated that wasn't my intent. She left the office in better spirits and from my perspective all was well.

      In early April, HR discussed the complaint with my boss and I then asked my boss if I could speak to HR directly and she agreed. I setup a meeting with HR to address the complaint and to share my side of the story as well. The individual in HR was very objective and accusatory. She stated that she saw a pattern but couldn't explain what and she made other judgmental remarks as well and I felt as though she was attacking my character. I felt HR sided with the staff without ever asking me and formed an opinion and acted on it. HR suggested that I take advantage of a leadership coach, I agreed, and then left. I discussed it with my boss and she wrote off HR and stated you just have to play their game b/c they do not have our backs. I didn't hear anything else about the coach from HR or my boss and after following up 2 times, I left it alone. On 4/25 I received a call from HR (diff. person) stating that they were talking to all staff within our department to see if there was a morale issue. I answered the questions and left for vacation on 4/27. I returned to the office on 5/8 and my boss said we have a meeting with HR at 830 to discuss the exit interviews, I acknowledge and met them in the conf. room. My boss then stated that she asked HR to interview current staff and staff that have left to see if there were any concerns and this is why we were all in the meeting. HR began asking me a lot of questions of which I answered professionally and calmly. At the end I was told by HR that the reason people were leaving was because I had created a micromanaging, toxic environment and that I was harsh and controlling. She stated that she talked to 20 people ( I am assuming me being 1) and that 80% of them were unhappy and that 46% were looking for another job. I didn't react, I said wow. I was def. in shock at the approach and I felt betrayed. My boss then slides over and reads a letter to me stating that I was being placed on paid administratively effective immediately that day while they reviewed my leadership style and personal conduct. I was instructed to turn in my computer, badge, and keys and to not have any contact with my employer or employees until further notice. I was referred to FSAP and escorted out of the building.

      I am writing to ask you if there's anything I can do? I feel blindsided.

      Thanks in advance for your advice and reading this long comment!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      walsh00 - If you didn't do it, then maintain your story, gather any witnesses and use the pointers in the article to maintain your truth. Ultimately, it comes down to credibility.

    • profile image

      walshs00 

      17 months ago

      Is there anything i can do if i have been falsely accused of saying things I didn't say. I was put on suspension for comments a coworker said. The "victim" seems to think I made these comments.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      CarahFBM - Just because you're seeing a therapist for a mood disorder doesn't mean that you are protected against termination. You still have to abide by the company's policies and do your job. You might offer disability information as a potential explanation for your behavior (e.g., your meds were being adjusted), but it may or may not work.

    • profile image

      CarahFBM 

      17 months ago

      If I am seeing a therapist for my mood disorder, related to me being a PCA, am I protected against termination as a person with a disability?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      wronglyaccused - Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      17 months ago

      I think she is being very perceptive, and is rightly saying that different departments try to work together to take care of each other, in legal or illegal pursuits, since the company welfare requirements are being handed down flow from the same/common source. Shared survival requirement … ☹ For example, when HR makes a mistake then the legal feels that it is their duty to protect them; and legal is protected by HR. Same for Security and IT and so on.

      The collusions are quite common since inside the four walls the goal is for the company and the officers to look good. Some of these collusions are shameless and/or heartless. It is often difficult to pin them down since they know how to obfuscate, prevaricate, even obliterate (the evidence), and in general run the clock, all the while hiding behind expensive lawyers (in case it is a large company). So, again, yes collusions are very common.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      Marty Voelker - I'm not 100% sure I understand the perspective you were trying to express in your comment. The collusion part threw me off.

      Regardless ... yes, HR and Compliance functions do often serve a gatekeeping function when it comes to employment. Not every allegation is false, remember. Employees do make mistakes and others violate company policies on purpose. A good proportion of people even admit to wrongdoing during investigations.

      Thanks for your comment. I wish you all the best.

    • profile image

      Marty Voelker 

      17 months ago

      Whether its the US or UK, the HR departments of the world are 'policemen and policewomen' tasked with making one's life miserable if they are carrying out directives of upper echelon management to make false and erroneous and petty infractions stick. You will find that all levels of the company outside your small insignificant circle will be in collusion against you, even if they do not know you personally.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      18 months ago from USA

      wronglyaccused - Again, I'm sorry this happened to your family and hope you will find a way to succeed in spite of it.

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      18 months ago

      Thanks! Were other messages from you not there to establish a different context, there would have been a very subtle disturbing undertone in the reasoning that “it's unfortunate that the bravery exhibited by the many women of the #MeToo movement might result in everyone not getting a fair and neutral hearing”. The #MeToo movement and the bravery of the women should not lead to and/or should not justify a person to be wrongly accused and terminated. That bravery is scant consolation to a distraught family which has several women. This situation has been devastating to not just my brother but to our mother to who finds this all truly unfathomable. The accusing women now gets job safety and good reviews for a long time due to potential litigation. So, this is a fool proof formula to kill two birds in one stone. Get someone ousted whom your boyfriend did not like and get job stability and other benefits. Sadly, most readers will also say that this is really not my headache as it has not happened to me.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      wronglyaccused - HR has zero motivation to talk further with him because the employee has already been discharged. Remember, too, that HR is a management function. Due process is very important (obviously), and it's unfortunate that the bravery exhibited by the many women of the #MeToo movement might result in everyone not getting a fair and neutral hearing. Ultimately, however, the HR investigation process is NOT a court of law. That means HR can determine what evidence it considers and how it proceeds. If one feels s/he has been deprived of the due process the company assures in its policies, then one must seek redress through external means. I know this is frustrating, but it looks like you need to start with either an attorney (the initial consult is typically free) and/or an unemployment hearing. You can do the unemployment hearing without the attorney (and potentially win) if you choose.

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      19 months ago

      I feel that #MeToo may have created an impression in the mind of HR that, unless emphatically proven otherwise, it is best to assume that Men are devil and women are Mother Teresa. So, the “due process” is to a significant extent just lip service.

      And since he is broke and distraught so he cannot go to a lawyer easily. Arghhh … And, the HR does not want to talk much less meet face to face.

      So, how important is the DUE PROCESS? Is it important that he should have been given one? Is not due process just in the eye of the beholder? [Sorry for the repeat question.]

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      wronglyaccused - If the company has a policy, they should follow it. You always have the option to complain that the investigation did not follow company policy (i.e., that it was not fair, thorough, or allow for due process). Most companies have record retention schedules for how long they keep various types of documents. Some of these pointed questions are best asked of the company's HR to see what really happened or consult with an attorney to see whether the matter is worth pursuing, particularly given the aggreived's current emotional state.

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      19 months ago

      Sorry for the late acknowledgement. No one in the company wants to respond. No way to escalate this within the company. Other departments thought that HR acted as jerk and tried to intervene but everyone is afraid of a woman filing suit. Anyway, the #MeToo means that the woman is right by default. So, even if she fabricates evidence (and later admits it in private), the man will not have many options.

      The company manual says that the COMPANY WILL CONDUCT A FAIR, TIMELY, AND THOROUGH INVESTIGATION THAT PROVIDES BOTH PARTIES APPROPRIATE DUE PROCESS. Now, he clearly did not get that appropriate due process in any sense and form. Some questions:

      Question 1: Is the due process important or is it optional, and what does it really mean?

      Question 2: In any company, can the HR just talk to the accused for a few minutes on phone, refuse to look at all the evidence, interpret the worst possible meaning of even innocent gestures (he smiled when he looked at her) and then say that we gave you the due process. Is not “appropriate due process” something can be given lip service from the HR?

      Question 3: Her second complaint was fabricated and the first one was grossly exaggerated. But what happens IF the company did not preserve the “evidence”? I doubt they saved the exonerating evidence. Likely they purposefully destroyed it due to the reason that they cannot be expected to keep every physical item in the building saved for a LONG time.

      Question 4: The man is very kind and asks apologies if he feels someone looks unhappy with anything he said or did. And, now she says that he must have made mistakes else why did he choose to apologize. Does #MeToo mean that you can choose to declare unhappiness about some fairly innocent action and then have the person fired in a couple of days after unsubstantially saying that the man did that relatively very innocent action once again.

      The person is an amazing and very kind person. Very deep person. Now he has gone in an unbearable trauma and cries for hours at end.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      Common Sense - People can often have allegations "unsubstantiated" against them but then what gets them in trouble is the retaliation. I can understand your potential anger but at least you're aware. Hopefully the situation will never come up.

    • profile image

      Common Sense 

      19 months ago

      I never do anything inappropriate in the workplace. However, if my career was ended due to a false accusation, I would definitely take revenge in some form.

      After all, if I'm being severely punished and have no recourse, I might as do something to deserve the punishment.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      wronglyaccused - You do have to wonder what the motivation was and if she was encouraged in some way by a member of management in her actions. (I'm wondering about her personal connections, particularly her boyfriend.) Collect and preserve evidence now. Document the details.

      On the question of what can he do ... he can opt to do one or more of the following: 1) consult with an employment attorney; 2) file for unemployment compensation; 3) complain in writing via certified mail to the highest ranking executive in HR (a VP or other executive) and the highest ranking executive in his own department or on-site (a plant manager, VP, etc.), 4) file an age or other complaint with the state employment commission or EEOC for wrongful termination based on a protected factor, 5) if the employer is a federal contractor (and do NOT assume they are not, as so many indeed are), then file a detailed complaint with the OFCCP; 0r 6) complain to the individual members of the Board of Directors if he's gutsy enough. Assert as you've done here that the matter was never properly investigated by HR, he was discharged without due process, and HR discovered only hours after firing him that the allegations indeed were false. In addition, he should know what he seeks -- reinstatement, severance, early retirement, etc.? An employment attorney can help you sift through the options and act as an intermediary before things have to turn ugly.

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      19 months ago

      My brother has been terminated from a senior job at a very advanced age, and he is right now not very employable. Someone accused my brother of offering her expensive gifts and offensive flirty behavior though both were a lie which he could have proved but the HR never bothered talking to him face to face or seeing the evidences that he had or understanding the context of his behavior for which she was offended (the woman who complained had lifelong anger management issue). Now, her first complaint itself generated a FINAL warning from HR. Then, after a few days she again called HR with a complaint and within few minutes HR decided to terminate him. Some hours later HR found that the second complaint was fabricated. But by that time, he was already terminated and HR did not take back the termination decision. It seems that she was goaded by her boyfriend to make a complaint against him as later she told HR that she does not want him to be fired. My brother is broke, and he and his children are suicidal (but receiving therapy). The women indirectly several weeks later admitted to his ex-colleague that she may have fabricated the complaint (at the behest of his boyfriend) for my brother’s ouster. One junior HR person later realized that they did not give him due process but was too afraid to speak up. Others in HR also later realized something is wrong but decided to clumsily double down for what they perceived as the lower risk option. Of course, the more they doubled down, the more they contradicted themselves. My brother was a highly respected employee but with advanced age is not very employable. Several women in lab are upset at the misuse of sexual harassment clause. Especially against someone who was unusually respected as a model character. Ironically, sexual innuendos from management fly left and right in this work place but are never investigated. This seems a tool proof formula to try to get rid of anyone from workplace. What can he do?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      randomguy - You'll probably know more when you're interviewed. Good luck.

    • profile image

      randomguy 

      19 months ago

      I was accused of sexual harassment and have no idea who did it so I don’t know what I did and I don’t know who did it or why they did it i don’t trust gut instincts

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      19 months ago from USA

      Troubled employee - Thanks so much for the update. I often wonder what happens to people who inquire about their problem work situations. I'm so glad you found a positive resolution to your distressing job situation (although their reprimand of the complainant is a rare and often unwise move). I wish you all the best.

    • profile image

      Troubledemployee 

      19 months ago

      Thank you FlourishAnyway for your help! I wrote in back around the holidays about being accused of wrong doing. I wanted to jump back in and give you an update now that things are over. First thanks for your advice and your article. Both were spot on!

      For me, my Big Boss called and informed about the accusations. The details he gave me were not the actual accusations being brought against me. Once in a meeting with HR things were explained better. The reason for my boss calling was to say, "Hey, whatever has happened has happened, but make sure it STOPS today." Then once HR got involved 2 weeks later I got clarification.

      Basically, a co-worker, thought I was being too flirty with her. She does not seem to enjoy conversations with me, and wanted to make sure the relationship was kept on a work relationship. She was reprimanded for not addressing things with me. We were both instructed to take a 3 hour sexual harassment class.

      The outcome was nothing more than a complete miscommunication. We both were documented but no punishment or anything of nature. As long as no complaints are raised against me for the next 90 days the documentation will be destroyed.

      I have left the co-worker alone and only have a business relationship with her.

      When things go bad, its nice to know we have a friend to turn to for advice. I want to encourage others to write you and post about what is going on with situations at work. This is a very helpful post!

      Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      20 months ago from USA

      Kate - I am sorry this happened to you. I don't know the contents of the written message, but it obviously upset him and triggered something beyond what one might foresee. Did he feel threatened in some way by whatever the message was and thus decided to "shoot the (email) messenger"?

      Think about whether there is ANY reason why he'd assume you'd automatically lie or not be trustworthy? Is this the first time he's "gone off" on someone like this? Whom do you suspect took the message, since people's handwriting is pretty distinct? It says a lot that they are lying low while all this drama goes on and you're blamed.

      In the absence of HR, usually people go up through the management chain. Have you tried talking reasonably one-on-one with the manager? That manager's manager? You might want to consider whether this is the type of work environment you want to spend one-third of your life in? Although good jobs are hard to come by, you may be well served to find a job where you're treated more professionally. Plus, since that's your boss, I'd wonder if it's truly a good job or whether it'll last long anyhow. We teach others how to treat us in what we will tolerate or not.

      If it were me in this situation (which it's obviously not), I'd take it up through the management chain, along with copies of the relevant documents and talking points. However, I'd also check temporary agencies pronto, get my resume together, and alert my network that I'm back in the job market. No one deserves to be treated with such disrespect, even if they did take a phone message that someone didn't like. Good luck!

    • profile image

      Kate 

      20 months ago

      I'm a receptionist but when I am not at my desk, others can answer the phones that ring at their desks. A week or so ago I walked into the office to find a handwritten message for my boss on my desk with very few to no details written by a mystery person. (You're supposed to sign your name on handwritten messages). I then emailed my boss the message and told him I was not sure who had wrote it but here is what is written. After I emailed the message, I threw it out in the garbage can. A while after my boss came flying out of his office practically screaming asking where the message was. I told him I had tossed it..as I always do once the message is delivered to the correct person. He then told me to 'FIND IT NOW'. Again I said it is in the garbage and God knows how much gross stuff is now piled on top of it, being we work in a busy office and people are in and out of the kitchen constantly. I looked slightly, but didn't go crazy as I am a germ freak and who wants to go through the garbage?! I was then asked to talk to my boss & my manager where my boss basically told me straight up that he did not believe me and told me that he thinks 'I really took the horrible message and am scared of him and my first response was to lie'. Every time I went to talk and explain a point he presented, he put his finger up telling me to sh and went on with his accusations. By the end of the whole meeting I was too upset to even remember each point he had said to further explain my side. While all of this went on my manager 'noted everything'. Within two days I was presented with two documents of all of the accusations and the few things I was able to say all twisted around to their benefit, listed on these papers. I was told I could make changes and then had to sign them and hand them back. I felt very uncomfortable being I DID NOT TAKE THIS MESSAGE AND AM BEING FALSELY ACCUSED WITH NO PROOF, but I made my changes ((changed almost every single line)) and crossed out the last line that they had wrote saying 'I agree to the contents' and wrote in myself 'My signature only signifies my receipt of this document and not my full agreement with its contents'. Before I handed it back I emailed my boss asking if he could make a few minutes to sit down and meet with me to to go over this. He replied saying 'CLEARLY' you are lying about this so I will not sit down with you privately now or ever'. I am completely floored and do not know what to say or do. Please help!! Also...we do not have an HR dept. in this office. All we have is the boss & manager, which CLEARLY I cannot talk to..

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      20 months ago from USA

      troubled employee - It sounds like rather than issuing discipline, counseling, coaching, etc. himself, he wants to push the matter onto HR. Explain your side calmly using facts and perhaps invite the HR representative to use the headset so s/he understands the technical issue. Most importantly, in talking with HR, do not even seem to talk over them. In meeting with HR, ask what the allegation of wrongdoing is.

    • profile image

      troubled employee 

      20 months ago

      Yesteday i was called by manager informing me that i spoke over a consumer and i was quiet and the call cut ,AND i EXPLAINED MY SIDE THAT OUR HEADPHONES THAT WE ARE ALL USING HAVE PROBLEM CONSUMERS CANT HEAR US so with mine you say something after a second it gets to the ather side ,and i was trying to explain to the prosses and what then needs to be done to assist the consumer but he he was not giving me a chance to speak .so i was informed the matter will be reffed to HR and an alligation will be issued ,I have no idea what that means . will i be fired ,given a warning

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      20 months ago from USA

      Marchelle Lynn - Regarding your job and potential liability for the missing money, you may want to contact an attorney. At this point, it's not clear whether you have a job, what behaviors make you feel unsafe, and how the past sexist remarks relate to the current situation. This may be a case of letting them fire you and trying to collect unemployment or reaching a severance. An attorney in you state who is up to speed on all of the details of your case can best advise. Lack of a previous record and positive work history certainly speak in your favor. Also, if you were stopping by the store for a business matter rather than for a personal errand, that might help.

    • profile image

      Marchelle Lynn 

      20 months ago

      I had taken multiple deposit totaling approx $2000 stopped atthe grocery store for work and forgot to lock one of my manual lock doors. I did not realize until I was apptox half the distance to the bank that the bag was not under the seat. My employer sent me home and told me to come back in 4 days after he called police trying to get me arressted in which the police said there was not evidence to arrest me as this type of crime has happened a lot in our community. My employer now wants all leased merchandise back. He has been very rude and sexist to me in the past which I have proof of all via text. I do not know what to do and do not feel safe going back to work!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      20 months ago from USA

      Marjan - I'm not sure I fully understand the issue as it seems you work abroad rather than in the US. If you were discharged from employment for alleged dishonesty, do you have an appeal process through governmental channels in your country? Can you appeal to the owner or other authority? Even if you cannot get your job back, aren't there other employers in the area? Must you rely on your old management who terminated you as your only reference? Perhaps you have former coworkers, bosses, or others who can attest to your work ethic and give you a positive reference to other employers?

    • profile image

      Marjan 

      20 months ago

      I was dismissed last year on the 16th of November 2016. They dismissed me of gross dishonesty. I have helped a collage by putting his name on a system as he informed me that the company took his salary away from him. He said to me that they told him that the company will only pay him R10 per booking so he asked me if I can help him by putting his name on the system instead of my name. Our management did found out what we did and after she talked to both myself and co-worker that is also dismissed she said that we must stop what we are doing. So we did stoped both of us had a hearing and the outcome was gross dishonesty. I received a letter and in that letter stand that they will not clear my name so I will not get any work as they do reference checks. Please afvise what can I ask for them to clear my name so that I can get work again. They told the other workers that myself and my collage was steeling from the company boss and all the other workers on the 17th of November 2017 when they had there morning update.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      Troubledemployee - First, don't let this ruin your holiday because you cannot control it right now. You'll soon enough learn what the alleged inappropriate comments were exactly. I suspect they pertain to your compliments of her attire. If the comments were misunderstood or taken out of context, provide clarification and reiterate that you had no intent of causing harm or discomfort and your relationship with her is entirely professional. If you have never invited her anywhere other than out to lunch, say so. Also mention who else (male and female) you have invited out to lunch in the same manner as your coworker. Also try to recall details of the lunch -- did any details of it resemble a date rather than lunch with a coworker (e.g., pulling the chair out for her, going to a fancy restaurant, etc.)?

      If there have ever been any jokes or comments about an open marriage, then be prepared to explain that. It's a very specific allegation. If she made it up and it absolutely never happened, firmly say so. You'll also probably be asked why she would make up something like this if it didn't happen.

      The investigation likely will not last long once it gets started because of the urgency of the matter, but you'll be asked not to discuss it with others (e.g., coworkers). Depending on the findings, the matter could result in nothing happening if it's unsubstantiated. Alternatively, you may receive some coaching or discipline up to termination.

      Defend yourself with the truth since you said some of this is completely false. Don't try to "massage the truth" with the parts that are not completely false. The next steps likely are that you'll be contacted for an interview with an HR investigator.

      Try to set this aside right now and enjoy the holidays as much as possible. You might consider telling your spouse about the allegation so she'll understand the stress that you are under. It's a difficult time to face allegations, and I wish you well.

    • profile image

      Troubledemployee 

      21 months ago

      This morning I was informed that a female co-worker has accused me of sexual harassment. With it being the holidays I was informed HR was out and they will be sending me a formal letter. The accusations are from an office assistant that a group of sales reps share. She stats I have made inappropriate comments and I have asked her and even to be part of an open marriage. I am married she is not. This was a short phone call with my boss and I was completely blindsided and shocked. I did not ask many questions or say much. I did say some of this is completely false. First I have no desire to create an unhappy or unsafe work environment for anyone. Second I had no intentions of trying to cause her harm or discomfort. I have asked to lunch as I have all my co-workers and typically I eat lunch with random co-workers randomly. She helps me a lot and I thought treating her to lunch would be a nice way to say thank you. I have said you look nice today or a cute outfit. Nothing to the extent of saying anything sexual about how her clothes fit or anything of such. I have never asked her out on a date or for any sexual activity. I have never touched her not even a hug.

      My question is how do I defend myself? What are possible outcomes? What are the next steps?

      I am scared confused and worried!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      cupcakebug - She's right in that once a complaint is made a complainant cannot simply withdraw it due to a change of heart. The company has a duty to investigate. However, don't make more of the matter than what it already is. Just participate in the investigation, provide the facts, including the information you have laid out here regarding the apology that your coworker accepted. Respect the job that HR must do and avoid saying that it's ridiculous (even though you both may think that). I can't predict the outcome. However, if this is the only complaint you've ever faced, the facts that you present don't seem to be evidence of an overly egregious situation. Moving forward, you might just watch how you phrase things and encourage people who are offended to tell you so you can fix what's wrong quickly. It was honorable of you to apologize.

    • profile image

      cupcakebug 

      21 months ago

      Hello

      I'm accused of making a racial remark to a coworker.

      According to the accuser I said "Blank, go sit with your family", meaning the hispanics that we work with. According to him this was said on a Thursday and he reported it to HR on Monday.

      HR pulled me into the office on Tuesday and asked if I said it. In all honesty I can't remember if I did or not. I told HR "I can't remember if I said that, but if I did, I definitely didn't mean it in a rude or racist way". In addition to saying that, I told her that "I probably did, as a joke, but nothing rude, I would never be rude like that to anyone". She told me who complained and that she needed to investigate. I asked her if it was okay to apologize to him and she said yes. After I left the meeting with her I went straight to him and said "I'm not trying to be rude, but I don't remember saying that. If I did, it wasn't meant to be rude, in anyway, I was probably just joking (because my sense of humor is like that)". He said "Thank you for apologizing, that is all I really wanted" He then asked if I was in trouble, because he wasn't trying to get me into trouble, he just didn't know how to approach me about it. I told him that there is going to be an investigation and I'm not sure. He said he wanted us to go to HR, the next day, and say that everything was resolved.

      So we both went in and said that everything was fine, we talked it out and he is not mad, it was just a misunderstanding and he said "I want to move on and keep this in the past". Later that day I spoke to HR, alone, and asked if the investigation was still going to happen and she said "yes, I have to investigate. it's the law". She said she doesn't know how long it's going to take or the outcome that will come of it. I asked her if I was going to be terminated, she said she was not sure. Do you have an idea of what kind of punishment I am looking at?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      cloud - How can you change if you don't have examples of when you behaved inappropriately? Perceptions are fine, but a good manager will actively coach you, letting you know asap what you've done wrong, the impact of your inappropriate behavior, and then s/he work with you on better behavior alternatives for the situation.

    • profile image

      cloud 

      21 months ago

      The manager have a talk with me.

      I got complaints, said that I am bossy.

      I said I am surprised, coz I focus doing my own work, can you give me an examples.

      He cannot give me an examples, I said I wish to change, so I want to know what did I that make me sound bossy.

      He said is a *perception*

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      Dawn - I wish you all the best. I trust that you know what is best for you.

    • profile image

      Dawn 

      21 months ago

      Thank you for responding. My mistake, it should have been "not". I do believe this is a pattern from my manager for the past couple years. After thinking about it over the weekend I plan to go through with the investigation and then give a formal notice. Thank you for your help!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      Dawn - Did you mean, "I truly DID say this"? or is there a "NOT" that is missing? If you did it, just state the facts to HR, your reasoning for making the statement, and take any feedback they give you, as it seems on the face of it to be an issue that at worst would result in some employee counseling about how you need to work together, etc.

      If, in fact, you did NOT say this, be calm, share how shocked you are about the allegation, offer information on how you treat coworkers, customers, and others. Provide information on witnesses, possible motives for false allegations, and stand your ground that you didn't say it. I'm not sure what you have to gain from resigning over this. Investigations happen all the time, and unless this type of alleged incident is egregious or part of a greater pattern, it'll probably be regarded as a one-off. The more upset you become, the more you draw attention to the investigation.

    • profile image

      Dawn 

      21 months ago

      I was suspended from my job stating someone made formal complaint and HR was doing an investigation. I spoke to HR and it seems that the complaint is saying that a coworker did not deserve a promotion and was dumb. I truly did say this. I'm hurt and sad. I just want to resign. Even if I'm found not guilty I will be putting in my notice. My question is...do I go through the investigation or just walk away.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      21 months ago from USA

      Greg - Especially in times of #metoo harassment and when dealing with an already difficult employee, it's a mistake to ever lay hands on an employee. This is even the case if it's to innocently straighten their tie and waistcoat. All you can do is lay out the facts to HR, as you have done here. Supply details and documentation about her work history and where she was in the disciplinary and probation process. Poor employees who are at risk for discharge often look for ways to work the system. Just breathe and keep it fact-centered. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Greg Kew 

      21 months ago

      Dear FlourishAnyway,

      It seems like I am currently going to a harassment claim at work. I have been working for the same company over the past 4 years, have been promoted twice to different management roles. The person who made the accusation, failed over probation review, therefore probation period has been extended with 2 weeks. Reasons were lateness, constant sick calls, personal assessment failures. After moving her to a different department, things have not changed. Bad attitude towards customers, towards management, etc. Two days ago this person accused me touching her breast during service time, walked out from job, and filed a complaint against me. However, a day before she advised me that she is handling her resignation notice the following morning. On the day, she turned up 15 minutes, with challenging attitude, in not appropriate uniform, which was not up to standards, which I mentioned to her then. I have had a lateness form ready to be filled in, also ready for a performance assessment, although she refused to fill any of the above mentioned documents in. Then I fixed this employee's tie and waistcoat with my bear hands, with no bad intention or what so ever, then she walked out from job. Now, I have received an invitation to a HR investigation meeting next weeks. What should i do?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      23 months ago from USA

      Schone - This is a slippery slope, and it seems like HR is trying to counsel or discipline all managers present for a general management conduct issue (i.e., poor judgment). Having all managers check in on the emotional well being (?) of each person is a little unusual, but if it were a potentially offensive place or perceived as dangerous, that might be understandable. (Example: a location of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a complaint who has been a previous crime victim.) If I were your friend, I'd want to know what specifically was my misbehavior? What specific behavior should I have done instead to "check in on the emotional well being" of all employees present, and at what point in time? For example, what should I have said? Did the investigation determine that I violated any company policies? Is this discipline that goes on my record or am I simply being advised to behave differently moving forward? Obviously, neither you nor I have all the context of the complaint. The senior most manager present bears primary responsibility here.

    • profile image

      Schone 

      23 months ago

      No specific event that was witnessed by the accused person, and that was agreed upon by HR (they clarified they understood that no specific act was witnessed by my friend). The complaint ( that came in later) was that somebody had felt emotionally unsafe (but said nothing) and then the discipline resulted because the managers in the group did not anticipate someone might feel Uncomfortable walking down a city street of bars (and maybe what comes with that, in a big city) and did not first check in on the emotional well being of each person. Baidcslly it is not clear what the allegation is, or if perhaps my friend is being lumped into others, maybe whom did actually witness something.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      23 months ago from USA

      Schone - No, unfortunately, because I have such a large number of those requests. If you'd like to summarize so that everyone reading can potentially benefit from your situation, I'd be happy to respond online. Whether it's a manager's unwanted requests for sexual favors, taking an office group to a strip bar, shooting range, or other questionable venue as a part of "group bonding," ... chances are you're not alone and I've investigated something like it before.

    • profile image

      Schone 

      23 months ago

      do you do private consult phone calls or emails? Hard to type it all here!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      23 months ago from USA

      Schone - I'm not understanding the situation clearly, but let me say two things: 1) it doesn't matter where you were -- at the regular work site or on some company-sponsored event or trip 2) all managers physically present had a duty to uphold the company's policies and expectations, from the senior manager present to the lowest management employee. If one didn't behave appropriately, another should have interceded. I've investigated situations where an entire management group was disciplined because they failed to recognize and respond to an incident that they either witnessed, heard about, or should have reasonably known about because they were present at a company-sponsored social occasion.

    • profile image

      Schone 

      23 months ago

      Wonderful information - thank you! What would you advise when a wrongdoing complaint and investigation involoves the lack of higher management employees to ensure "emotional safety" of all employees, when on an out of the country work trip, after meetings social hour and tour of the city. So it includes not recognizing any potential situations that might threaten that emotional safety, and, therefore not acting to leave a situation. Group was 10+, a few of them the managers, the rest not. None of the folks on the social hour tour were direct reports of the person accused I am asking about. And this accused person has no idea the details of what threatened the complainees emotional safety and can't be told, other than he was told it was not due to a specific incident he witnessed and did intervene on. Rather it was a situation he should have seen as potentially uncomfortable for some.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      23 months ago from USA

      Trinity - If the allegation is found to have no merit, then you should face NO retaliation for reporting a complaint in good faith. If you do feel like you're being retaliated against, file a new complaint. Retaliation complaints can be more serious than the initial complaint and cause more trouble. Consider putting any future complaints in writing (email) and cite witnesses in the complaint. You do not have to put up with being touched in an unwelcome way like that. Clearly tell others in those circumstances to stop, take their hands off you, and step three feet back from you. When HR issues you a decision, you can respond with a rebuttal saying that you do not agree with the decision based on the following factors (then briefly list them). Email it and ask that it be included with the investigation file. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Trinity 

      23 months ago

      I'm currently going through a sexual harassment claim at work, i'm the one reporting it after months of verbal inappropriate comments and unwanted physical contact (the accused has been seen to enter my cube and rub my shoulders/wrap their arms around me). Today I had a review after the alleged had discussed the matter with HR and I fear that HR are favoring the alleged on the grounds of a misconstrude text message (i'm new to the country and learning the hard way about cultural slang and what it may mean here). I held my hands up and admitted this, but I believe this may already be going against me. The accused has made accusations of a romantic relationship gone wrong, which is the polar opposite of what was initially explained (i'm a gay woman and he's a straight male). HR told me today that they will not be moving me to another cube even though I have made them aware I feel uncomfortable being so close (I sit in the cube next to his), as they kept repeating "this is a very serious allegation"

      HR also told me today that they're unsure about interviewing my team mates who may have heard or witnessed the harassment, instead they told me they should have a decision in a week. If the allegation is vetoed, what reprocussions am I likely to face?

      Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      24 months ago from USA

      Allyson - Thank you for such a kind compliment! You've made my week!

    • profile image

      Allyson 

      24 months ago

      I just want to say how much I appreciate your articles and that you are an amazingly kind, helpful, and patient voice in the midst of the proverbial HR Chaos. Thank you for choosing to share your experiences with us!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      2 years ago from USA

      Faf35 - You're stuck both emotionally and mentally on the fact that someone didn't agree with your style of interaction. That's a piece of important feedback about the way you handle interpersonal relations -- perceptions matter. You don't necessarily know how many people HR talked to before issuing you this warning. They may have talked to people like your manager or past coworkers who agreed that you come across in a less than collaborative way -- abrasive even.

      Talk to your manager about your concerns and truly listen to his advice, consider positively developing your relationship with the manager who allegedly complained about you on behalf of his team, and if you insist on pursuing the matter, decide whether to approach HR conversationally or formally. (My preference would be conversationally.) You can email HR a rebuttal to your complaint or lodge a new complaint against HR that an investigation wasn't done properly, but be cautioned that it may peg you as someone who doesn't take feedback well, regardless of results. I've known so many people over the years who either fairly or unfairly had warnings about interpersonal or management style but it didn't impact their career. You need to figure out a way to move on from this.

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