Accused of Wrongdoing at Work: What to Do

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's 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

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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 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, 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

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.

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.

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

Reader Perspective

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

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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.).

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


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!


1Guerin, Lisa. "Employment At Will: What Does It Mean?" Accessed September 20, 2013.

2Lucas, Suzanne. "I was falsely accused at work -- now what?" CBS News. Last modified January 16, 2013.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

More by this Author


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA Author

Steve - During your initial investigation with the HR investigator, calmly lay out the dates, the high-level nature of each prior complaint and each investigation's findings. (A lazy investigator may not have pulled prior files so do his/her job for them by establishing the pattern of the complainant's abuse of the system.) Be calm, businesslike and analytical about it. Then tell the investigator that you understand they legally must investigate good faith allegations, however the record clearly shows that if there is any "harassment" going on it's not BY you but OF you BY the serial complainant. Explain why you think the allegations have been made in bad faith. Some companies have policies about abuse of the compliance reporting system in this way but such situations typically need to be clear-cut and legally airtight before a company will take disciplinary action against the complainant. However, I indeed have known of it to occur, including termination of employment for repeatedly filing baseless complaints. Note that many of the times when people are serial complainants, it's my own observation that there is some mental health issue going on. HR may well be aware of that already.

Steve 2 weeks ago

I have been accused of harassment on several occasions. I have not been found guilty of any of these. Is there a way to have this person stop accusing me and maybe saying that she is harassing me? She continues to complain with no just cause?

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA Author

ChrisO - You probably understand the owner's character and ability to be convinced with reason and whether pursuing such a path is likely to simply further irritate him. As far as references, line up other professional contacts (coworkers/managers past and present, clients and professional associates, etc.). I'm sorry this happened to you. Concentrate on the how to answer the question regarding why you're moving on (i.e. looking more challenge, opportunity, etc.). Best of luck in finding a better company and position.

ChrisO 4 weeks ago

Thank you so,much for your response. At 15+ they are certainly a large enough company, but the time and energy to pursue such a thing doesn't feel worth it. If I could only get them to formally acknowledge that there is no merit to this accusation. I do plan on pursuing other employment opportunities and only really worry about how this could appear to other employers. Thanks again for your insight.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA Author

ChrisO - Since you're not wanting to pursue a "suit" I'd assume that the possibility of complaining to a formal agency (if your company is even large enough for that) is out of the question. It does sound like potential retaliation against you, even though it was the owner's mere assumption that you made the comment. There are a lot of unknowns here. However, the EEOC handles employment-related civil rights laws that affect companies generally employing 15+ workers. Evaluate whether your company qualifies and if want to pursue that path.

The bigger question is whether you want to continue to work in an environment of backstabbing where 1) untrue comments are pinned on you by coworkers, 2) neutral fact-finding investigations aren't conducted, and 3) the owner plays God with personnel decisions and ultimately people's careers and livelihoods. Search your soul on that. You could alternatively let things cool off and try to approach the owner and set the record straight. Good luck.

ChrisO 4 weeks ago

Great article. I was literally just demoted over an allegation claiming misconduct. Specifically, I supposedly told another employee that the owner of the company likes to hire women with large chest. I of course denied this immediately when the owner confronted me today. Mind you, it took them three weeks to inform me of the allegation. We do not have a real HR department as our company is pretty small. I know you're not a lawyer, but do you have any sort of insight? I'm not looking for a suit or anything, but I'm really devastated and hurt and how this was all handled.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA Author

lovyourpets - First, you say that your trouble employee is not producing sales. Even if it were not for all the other issues, would you fire them? Poor production is a frequent reason for sales workers being released from their positions. Second, the allegations should be investigated. Third, your hiring documents probably have at-will language, an EEO policy, work behavior rules, and an agreement -- all signed hopefully by the employee -- regarding temporary status. You will need to look at these and rely on them. This situation has the potential elements of wrongful discharge, including racial and sexual harassment, religious discrimination and who knows what else. Thus, it may be in your best interest to run this by an employment attorney in your state. (I'm an HR professional and I/O psychologist, not a lawyer, although I've handled a number of ugly cases like the one you describe.) I do have a hunch you may be seeing this person again. Be sure to handle the discharge professionally and work in tandem with the client.

loveyourpets 4 weeks ago

Great article. We are in Georgia a temp agency the client has spoken about letting go a person who is not producing sales. However decided to keep them on. However another temp person has come forward and stated they will not work with this person as they are uncomfortable with racist remarks, the person prays while working at the job on the clock, they also on one occasion rubbed another coworkers chest. They also offended the coworker when they would not pray with them by demanding they pray as well. The client has said other workers came to them and said they did not want to work with them either. While talking behind closed doors to the offended employee, we noticed through the window the one being charged was listening. Since then they have texted repeatedly demanding to speak with the person to "make it right", and also saying at the same time the person is just jealous. We are at will should we just part with this temp person without opening up all of these charges leveled against them ( add to that lack of productivity_) with the client discussed with them before. In short how do we handle this?

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA Author

minor issues - This does NOT sound minor. If I'm understanding you correctly, the offensive racial and sexual comments made by the senior manager preceded her being suspended. (Do you think this was retaliation for her ignoring his racial comments?) Unless you made threats of violence or something, when you attempted to complain about the suspension, calling the police seems like an exaggerated response on management's part. Do you think this was retaliation for complaining about the suspension? Is your daughter African American? Has she been treated differently in other respects (asked on dates by managers, had her body critiqued, touched inappropriately, etc.)?

Organize your facts in a clear and logical way. Write down as close as you can exactly what offensive statements were said and by whom during her employment, who witnessed them, when they happened, and how this free token issue was communicated then implemented as a policy. Did other employees behave the same way your daughter did with the free tokens yet not receive discipline? What were their demographics?

File a complaint with your daughter's employer (HR). Contact the corporate office if you need to. If it's especially egregious and affecting other employees other than your daughter, consider also reaching out to your local NAACP chapter and filing an EEOC complaint. Don't tolerate racist, sexist behavior in the workplace. Show your daughter how to stand up for herself constructively. And most of all don't let her quit her job.

minor issues 7 weeks ago

My daughter is a minor and was recently suspended from work due to giving away tomany free tokens...the senoir manager told the general manager that it was a problem after my daughter continusously ignored his conversations about african americans butts, breast and legs.....

We went in to talk to him about the suspension and he refuse to talk to us and called the police....we were escorted out of the store like criminals....

What should we do next

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA Author

Chico - Companies that legitimately do treat employees like that deserve the push back they get from unions and union-free employees.

Chico 7 weeks ago

As for a worker in ont your hr are no good never trust them because they treat u like dirt belittle and harass u so taking these with my union and will win this and next will press charges to my hr .. if my union does nothing taking to the labour board...

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 8 weeks ago from USA Author

Beth - No, HR is not obligated to shared specific complaints. You might look for it in the form of performance coaching or an investigation, depending on the substance of complaints. Typically, exit interviews are looked at for egregious situations and trends. Multiple complaints aren't good.

Beth 8 weeks ago

People have complained about me at their exit interview. These people were not very good employees and they were leaving after less than a year at the company. Is HR obligated to tell me what the complaints are ?

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 8 weeks ago from USA Author

dd - Consider going higher, forwarding your original email so that you have the date stamp and indicating that you have heard nothing back from the Company and want to resolve the matter quickly so that you can return to your job. Check back with your attorney, as a letter from him/her may also get some quick attention. They cannot leave you out of work forever, even paid. You may never know what the allegations are, however.

dd 8 weeks ago

Hi dear,

Just to update you: I have not heard back from my director. I sent him an email a week ago. I got no response. I wonder, how would this happen i.e. to be suspended due to some allegations for over two weeks now with having no idea what those allegations are. I am shocked. Any advice? Thank you for your support.

dd 2 months ago

Great! I will keep you updated. Thank you.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

dd - Companies may handle investigations in slightly different ways. Some may suspend an employee with pay pending the outcome of an investigation as a matter of routine. Usually, in those cases the investigation is handled fairly quickly (not 10 days). In other cases, suspensions are reserved only for certain types of allegations (e.g., harassment/discrimination, threats of workplace violence, ongoing fraud) or when leaving the employee in the workplace would compromise the investigation or pose a risk to the complainant.

Either way, the company is being smart by taking back a suspended employee's keys, company computer, and company cell phone. These are the property of the company and they simply want to reduce the chances that a suspended employee 1) performs unauthorized work, 2) contacts coworkers or others through the work account, 3) compromises the investigation, or 4) sabotages something associated with the company. Believe me, all of these things are possible if these items are not taken away.

My best guess as to what would come next in your situation is that they will at some point contact you for an interview. They SHOULD do this. However, take the lead by contacting them via letter as suggested by your attorney. You should not expect to have your attorney present in the interview, however -- sorry.

In advance of that interview, you should rack your brain for any reason why someone would complain about you. Is there anyone who would want you to lose your job? Compliance calls and anonymous letters can come from inside or outside of the company. The interview questioning will likely reveal more about the source, although you may never learn who. Be ready to produce names of people who would have reason to hurt you with a false allegation and explain why.

As for your letter, your attorney provides an excellent piece of advice. Consider sending via certified mail a letter addressed to your director; you may want your attorney to review it first. Express concern about being out of work since (mention date) with no idea why. Review your loyalty and commitment to the company as well as your solid work performance over the last 9 years. Reiterate to the director that you are eager to resolve the matter and return to work. You want him to see you as a person in this letter. He's obviously been hearing some really negative information and you need to check in and let him know you need your job and want to return to work.

Good luck in finding out what you allegedly did and in returning to work. Let the truth prevail.

dd 2 months ago

Thank you for the informative article. I have a recent situation at work where my director called me a week ago for an urgent meeting and informed me of being sent home with pay. He indicated that there are serious allegations against me which he did not tell. I have checked with an attorney who advised me to send him a letter inquiring about those allegations. I was cut from every access to my email at work and to my office cell phone. it is almost 10 days now. Would you please advise me what comes next. Are they preparing me for firing from my job? I have been with them for over 9 years with an excellent record. Regards...

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FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

Mona - If the police are involved and/or deportation is involved it it's an international employment matter you definitely need an attorney. Seek a lawyer's consult immediately (usually the first phone call or meeting is free). Sometimes there are legal aid clinics that can assist depending on what the issue is and where you live. That's all I can help you with, unfortunately. Good luck.

mona 2 months ago

IT is a person from outside of Canada , he pretend is a friend then I guesss he turne against me with false things, I will lose my job, I will lose my family and I will be also leaving Canada. all offices where I work , they are in shock how came person so hard working and like me are in this kind of problem, even police came to one of my office and ask coworkers about me , it happened 1 year ago, this is for long then 1 1/2 years. I try t take a lowyer but I don't know sure if is thise person, I hear is one of my friend. thank u to take ur time to read my problem , I appreciate u a lot , The thing is I was quite till now, they cheack all about me, but this pression is too big and with investigators to fallow me e]even outside when I'm not working , is too much, and I don't know from where to start and what to be done. I have lack of knowlage in thise problem. thank u again if u have an idea please help me . I really appreciate

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FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

Tom - I cannot post your comment because of its coarse language, however please be aware that I would never recommend illegally recording another individual. It's one thing to possibly lose a job, but it's another to get caught or openly admit and brag about breaking wiretapping laws. If you recorded the audio without their permission you probably broke the laws of your state. Your company may also have a specific policy forbidding such behavior. I have personally encountered cases of employees who admitted they audio taped their boss without the boss knowing it. Not good, my friend. Think carefully before you move forward and consider a lawyer's consult.

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FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

Mona - Sorry but they actually don't have to tell you who complained or even what the specific allegation was (I know it may seem unfair) but they may ask you if there is anyone who may have reason to falsely accuse you. Think carefully about that question and present information up front. Dwelling on who accused you can lead to concerns about retaliation which are usually worse than the original alleged offense. keep in mind too that anyone can allege anything. if you didn't do something then the facts should be on your side.

mona 2 months ago

Flourish do u know hoe can I find who did the complain? cos iss from outside . u think is ok iif I ask HR or I will creat trouble? please I need your opinion.....

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FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

mona - Best of luck, whatever your troubles at work may be.

mona 2 months ago

thank u so much , the reson why I don't like to change is coz I love what I'm doing , I suffer coz I cannot imagine me out of this profession. honestly never feel tired.i love I really love my job, I love coworkers, people but what we can do ? with my professionalism and help from God I hope all will be ok.

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FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

AND - It sounds like you are a management employee who has been offered up as a "yeah but they did this too" type of defense by another management employee under investigation. Two wrongs don't make a right, obviously. Many times, an initial complaint is generated by an investigation of other wrongdoing, as in this case.

Don't be surprised if an investigator comes knocking. Consider yourself lucky that you have a little advanced warning so you can think through what you recall about the situation. It sounds like you probably said something "colorful" that was inappropriate. Before the investigator approaches you, you have a bit of time to think about whether you want to get tangled in a bunch of lies if there are witnesses (because they will likely talk to witnesses). Before speaking, also consider the value of your credibility and integrity. What's worse than the transgression is usually the cover-up. I wish you well in doing the right thing.

AND 2 months ago

I recently learned THIRD-HAND from another management team member that an employee at our location had heard from ANOTHER employee that I had made some sort of inappropriate racial comment and/or joke. It doesn't necessarily mean there's going to be an investigation, but this gives me strong anxiety. Admittedly, in a retail environment, things often times are played fairly loosely, and some colorful things are said, typically by everyone around. The employee who spoke with the manager is under investigation by LP for something unbeknownst to me that occurred while he was at another location. I've never been accused of anything like this, and I know TECHNICALLY I haven't been accused of anything yet, and I believe technically if someone hasn't said anything directly to me, it might not actually be harassment. Can you offer any thoughts on how to handle the situation?

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FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA Author

mona - Keep doing your job with passion and responsibility. Don't let fear rule your life. In the grand scheme of things, this is only a job. If you are very unhappy at work, secretly look for other work. Emphasis on secret.

mona 2 months ago

I don't know but looks like in my work place I'm monitored every day, and watching my performance, it been more then 1 1/2 years and trying to find something and I do my job properly with passion and responsibility but don't know what happen. I heard one of my friend complain . it been so long and I still I'm under observations , I dnt know what to do...

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FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA Author

Sharon - Stay calm and present the facts and your work history which hopefully has no other such misconduct allegations. Ask yourself what would be this person's motivation for falsely accusing you? Was it some phrase that was potentially misheard or misunderstood? Was the alleged language something that you even use? Did the co-worker hear it directly or was she eavesdropping (given that there were no witnesses)? Was the issue immediately reported by your coworker or was there a delay, and if so, why do you suspect that was? Consider and raise these types of questions as appropriate with the investigator.

Hopefully your supervisor, past supervisor(s), performance reviews, and other factual evidence can speak for your performance record. Don't get into a pissing match. If you have a good work record and did NOT do this, stay calm, express confusion and dismay and work professionally with the investigator. I hope this helps.

Sharon england 3 months ago

I work as a p.a. On a personal health budget. I have recently been accused by a fellow co worker that I swore at my client which obviously is not true. It is her word against mine with no witnesses. I have worked there for over two years and she has been there a month. I have been suspended from work awaiting an investigation. The service user lacks copasaty so her foster mother has stepped in and accused me of gross misconduct. Where do I stand on this

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FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA Author

Kareem Harris - Because you have already been terminated from your job, you might consider the following if you have not already: 1) filing for unemployment benefits with the department of labor in your state, 2) consulting an attorney if you wish, 3) filing a complaint with the Division of Human Rights in New York since you believe you were inconsistently treated based on race.

I will tell you that the "bad apples" comment and cutting the hours together don't paint a good picture at first blush. However, I'd wonder whether your investigators adequately warned you about retaliation and its possible ramifications (referencing the policy during their investigation discussion with you)? I'd also wonder about training as a manager -- with only 6 months of managerial experience, had you been trained by the company that this type of behavior was retaliation? A lawyer would be better equipped to assist you in this regard. Be prudent with whether it's worth the trouble to pursue this or just move on to another opportunity where you can prove yourself.

KAREEM HARRIS 3 months ago

My name is Kareem Deshawn Harris I was a member of Party City in Yorktown Heights, NY as a Store Manager for a little over 6 months, since coming to the company and taking over my store I pick up over 30k so far year to date the store have made a big improvement when it comes to customer service and sales in the store, I came in there with clear expectations on how I wanted the store run so we can win every day, every week and every month.

Know to the reason I’m sending this letter to you, I feel there have been some discrimination towards me with the company from the decision that they use to cost me to lose my job.

On Thursday July 28th, My DM Rick and a member from HR Jim came to my store to talk to me about me employee’s in my store, its seem that many people from my team called H.R. on me with false allegations because they didn’t like me because I made them do they job 4 hours of pay for 4 hours of work I always use to say to them. After they talk to my team they ask me to come in the office they said they talk to some of the staff by phone and in person and they all had the same story of harassment. I state well those are false allegations for them to give me a clear date and time of this because we have camera’s all over the store and I would be happy to pull it up for them Rick and Jim said we don’t have to do that and also stated they going to continue looking into the matter and would let me know what would be the outcome. I knew I didn’t do anything cause like I said we have camera’s in the building and they can look anything up date and time. They also said to me and everyone else they talk to that day whatever is said can’t not leave this room. There is a problem with that I’m a grown man so I know how the follow the rules. The problem is they told that to 16, 17, 18, and 19-year-old in my store all week I heard what they were talking about and also told them they are not allowed to talk about anything HR said to them.

On Thursday July 29th I talk to my members of my management team and said team we have some bad apples in the store so moving forward we have to change how we run the store so for now on we going to do everything by the book, hold everything single employee to a high standard, there would be no more horse playing at work. And we have some bad apples at work we have to weed out. And since we are under stuff we need to start hiring new employees to meet our customer expectations for customer service.

On Thursday Aug, 4th, Two week later I had my DM Rick and a member from HR Jim come back to my store, they came back to follow up from the last time they were in the store July 28th. I ask well did you find anything out about those false allegations, they said they was still looking into it. But then said to me didn’t we meaning Rick and Jim say not to talk to anyone about what was said in the office I said to them I didn’t say anything about what was said in the office. They said to me didn’t you say to some of your employees that you have some bad apples in the store I said yes I did say that but it had nothing to do with what was said in the office that day I was having a meeting with my management staff on what we needed to do to improve the all-around team. Good DM Rick and HR Jim said well that is employee retaliation. I stated please tell me how is that retaliation they said because I said we have some bad apples in the store. And that I stated hiring people to replace the old employee’s in the store. So since I did that they wanted to part way’s with me.

I said well from your hand book employee retaliation means making people afraid to complain or to assert their rights. I said to HR Jim you are stating that I went out to get revenge cause my workers came to you. I said you have no proof of this at all this is all allegations. I also said to HR Jim you sent me out an email saying all stores to start building up they team to get ready for peck season. DM Rick and HR Jim said well yes I see you hire some new people but you did cut other workers hours also. I said yes I cut they hours because I need hours for the new people coming in the store state law say if you have a part time employee that avg. more than 30 hours a week we must make them full time workers right he said yes that is right so me giving people 15 to 20 hours a week is the right thing to do because it is a part time job. They ask why wait to start do this after we talk to you I said this was already in my planner already before we had our talk. I also told them that one of my new hires came to me saying that people from my team ask her to call HR to lie about me cause they trying to get me out of the store and that she didn’t feel right about one of my Assist Managers Tom. I told HR Jim this and he didn’t do anything about it. So the company parted ways with me cause of employee retaliation. On Aug 4th.

Now that you know the story the reason I feel I terminated cause I’m African American. They saying I was terminated cause of allegations that I talk about what was said about in the office on July 28th 2016, After I left they talk to the employee that came to me and told me what the store was trying to do I heard they really blow her off she called her mother and her mother came to the store because she felt she was being harassed at work. When Jim and Rick left the store I heard that Tom and Luke who are White pulled her in the office that’s all on camera and told her why I was let go then started asking her questions about what was said in the office with Rick and Jim. She called her mother who is a manager at staples so she knows the law of retail. Her mother came back to the store called Jim from the office and ask him why are they talking to my child when they shouldn’t be talking her or asking her questions about what was said in the office. Tom and Luke are still working with the company they were told the same thing I was told but the difference is that mines was allegations and with them they really have proof of what they did on camera. HR was told about Tom and that a employee don’t feel right being around him and HR and Jim talk to him about this he is seen on camera with that employee in the office with Luke. But yet they are still working with the company again the only difference is that they are white and I’m Black so I feel the decision was easy for the company to let me go cause I’m black and let the White employees stay for the something they so called let me go for.

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FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA Author

oxfordreb52 - I'm so happy to know that this information was helpful to you. You've made my day. Thanks for letting me know that the article was beneficial. I wish you a long and successful career.

oxfordreb52 3 months ago

Excellent article. After reading it and following completely, I was given a second chance. Telling the truth to the question was the key and going overboard on it. Staying calm, focused, and explaining my position n it made it easy to come to the conclusion that I was telling the truth and I was told that this point in your article was the turning point in the investigation. Thank you for writing it.

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FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA Author

If it were me, I would contact the HR Manager or the Manager of your department. If that doesn't work, go higher. Explain being treated with a lack of respect and feeling like you were being coerced to sign something to falsely admit something you did not do. Request to see the alleged video. Request to see the text of the specific policy you allegedly violated and get a detailed explanation of how. (Note that if you violated a quality-related policy which resulted in a financial loss to the company, this could partially explain their behavior, but they should not have been rude.)

Share that you were bewildered and scared about being asked personal information about your "look" and method of transportation. Ask them what are they trying to insinuate here? Request an explanation. Emphasize your clean work record, pride in your work, and how pulling someone off the floor and treating them in a hostile manner then telling them to simply go back to work is unsafe as well as disrespectful.

Ask them, "Why am I being targeted?" Especially if you are a racial or ethnic minority, female, over 40, disabled, etc. this may give management pause. Pinning a "monetary loss" (theft?) on the wrong person hurts both the person who is falsely accused and the company because they didn't get the real culprit. Stand up for yourself if you didn't do anything. Don't sign anything that is untrue. Ask questions. Keep going higher.

tcalhoun17 3 months ago

i've recently endured a slightly hostile investigative LP phone call where I was pulled from the floor and sat in with a corporate witness, first I was asked to sign a statement of admitting guilt and monetary loss to the company! which I instantly refused and then we talked if I understood the policies and if i've ever broken them. The investigator bought many accusations upon me and said he even had evidence and video!? he asked for personal information about my look and even my method of transportation. The entire phone call was nerve wrecking. post call I was told I can go back to my duties and that they'll keep in touch on where things will go from there. I'm super worried, and I'm even thinking of writing a complaint to hr because this is insane. I've never been written up or reprimanded for anything there and I feel like they just want someone to pin something on. Help

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FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA Author

Jenny - I don't know what kind of job you have in regard to residents or whether you work for a public or private employer. That is important. However, here is a link to important information regarding employer requests for taking polygraphs in the workplace : Any HR Manager worth his or her salt has heard of the Employee Polygraph Protection Act of 1988. Depending on who you work for and the details of the situation, you may or may not be covered, so read this government link. (Also, if you have a union rep, consult him or her. Otherwise, you may want to consult an attorney.)

If you think you will be disciplined for not recording an incomplete phone call, gather as much specific information as you can regarding others who are similarly situated but received different treatment (same job as you, same type of scenario, engaged in same action as you, received different result, date/name of those individuals as well as race/gender/age etc.). It may be hard to do without raising questions among coworkers, but tell them you're not allowed to discuss why you need the information and say you really hope they understand.

Ask to see the written rule that covers your alleged rule violation if you aren't aware of it. You have to know what rule you were allegedly violating. Be very clear with the investigator/management that you have honored the direction of the HR manager to not share any information and that you have made a good faith attempt to follow any and all rules of the organization during the course of your employment (assuming that's true, of course). Good luck.

Jenny 4 months ago

I've been informed that the HR manager at my job will be interviewing me tomorrow at 2pm. No other details were given, however I can only assume that it stems from an issue while I was at work with a "resident" who attempted to make a phone call. (This resident is being monitored closely) The resident didn't complete their phone call, so I did not record/log the call and the phone they "attempted" to make their call from is one that apparently calls can't be traced. I was questioned for almost 2 hrs by this same HR Manager almost 4 weeks ago and at the end of our conversation she informed me not to discuss anything with co-workers, residents or others and that I could be disciplined or even terminated if anything was disclosed from my interview. She even asked me if I'd be willing to take a lie detector over my supposed" misconduct....and at the time I said sure, but now, I have no intentions of taking a polygraph.

I also, have not discussed the allegations with anyone. that was almost 4 weeks ago and now I'm going to have to meet with HR again to discuss this incomplete phone call that I didn't log. I also informed the HR manager that other staff had not logged incomplete phone calls and I was under the impression that that was acceptable. What is your take on the above?

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FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA Author

Rudolfine - Glad this article helped you. It's important to be the decision maker regarding your own employer, to be in the driver's seat as much as possible. Thanks for your feedback on this!

Rudolfine 5 months ago

Thank you very much for this great enlightening and very informative article... Helps to be pro active, during times when you have no emotional defense during such uncomfortable situation you find yourselves in. Great work!

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FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA Author

Harassed Manager - This is water under the bridge for you but I'll say it for your future benefit: The biggest mistake managers can make is failing to follow through and "protecting" an employee by NOT documenting behavior. You have to be consistent and follow through; no good deed goes unpunished. The employee was probably using you. (Hopefully, "fraternizing" didn't include a sexual relationship because that would take it into a different realm.) If the employee is as unsavory as you say he is, simply tell the truth to the investigator in a nonemotional way. Organize your facts and your paperwork (including emails, personal notes of conversations, etc.). Acknowledge that you made a mistake in not following through and that you regret trusting him to "get well" without formal measures. HR has heard this so many times. If the employee has had other managers within the company besides you, chances are there are other issues that HR knows about on this guy. Best of luck. Stay centered.

Harassed Manager 5 months ago

Hello, I was recently questioned in an HR investigation because an employee I disciplined made alot of allegations about me ranging from fear of me because I am a violent person to harassment by me to me stealing from the company and misusing company property. This employee has a proven track record of violating company policy to aggressive behavior and comes off as a conniving manipulative, and boisterous character in my organization. I am his direct report and everything i do or employees below me do is scrutinized by him to the point that I am now feeling harassed by him. The only thing I am guilty of is fraternizing with him, I did even give him a second chance once before by not following through with a write up that he did deserve and covering for him which I informed the HR investigator about. What can I do to protect my job and feel comfortable working in a place I like and have a proven track record of being promoted. In my time there i have been promoted twice and I am now going on 4 years. Thank you for this article and Please advise

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FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA Author

Womack - I'm sorry to hear the difficulties you are facing. Much of the answer depends on whether you are unionized. I'd recommend that you consult your policies and procedures handbook or portal (as organizations often put the information online). Because you don't know the allegations, refamiliarize yourself with all of the rules, policies and procedures that govern your employment. Typically, employers do not permit outside legal representation in an investigation session but if you are unionized you can request a shop steward etc. it doesn't sound like this is your situation. There are plenty of cases in which complaints are unsubstantiated so don't get too upset just yet. I know it's easier said than done. One of the first questions I often asked was if the person knew why they were here and if anyone else had any reason to generate a false claim against them.

Womack 5 months ago

Thank you for this article. I was just placed under investigation yesterday and I'm losing my mind. Your article puts things in perspective for me. I will not find out the allegations until next week and I'm trying not to drive myself crazy running through what I may have done, but it's difficult. It's a little better today, day two. Aside with this, I am most bothered knowing that everyone I work is talking about me, and I have been instructed not to talk to anyone. I feel like a prisoner. I am being reassigned to a different part of our agency while the investigation takes place. I am a public employee working for a state agency. How do my rights during this process differ from someone in the private sector? Am I able to bring legal representation to my interview? If so, would you advise for or against that? I have been a high performing employee for over 15 years and bend over backwards to ensure I go above and beyond so I don't want to make waves by having legal representation. Please share your thoughts on this. Perhaps it depends upon what the allegations are?

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FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA Author

Morbid Solutions - Thank you for your comment. The rules of engagement are different for union vs. union-free investigations, as you are permitted to have a union rep present (hopefully he or she is a good one -- I've interacted with some that were poor representatives). Also, be aware that there are some types of complaints (e.g., EEOC) that typically require that you first use the internal channels.

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Morbid Solutions 5 months ago from USA

Good article but it is a fact HR is pro company all they way. They are not in it for the employee unless it presents a serious problem for the company such as lawsuits. I am not saying all people who work in HR are horrible people and you may have some of the nicest people working in the HR office. Some companies do have a good HR team too. Excellent advice in this article for sure. Most people are oblivious to this type of thing on the job.

HR is there for the company and if you think as an employee they are there for you then you better think twice. From what I have seen the company will execute the easiest way to be rid of the problem which often is the employee. Some times to avoid a lawsuit they will promote a employee too. So it just depends on the situation and what is the path of least resistance to brush it under the rug. The simple truth is no matter what industry you work in all employees are expendable and replaceable.

When I was a Union member working in a at will state I had my fair share of dealing with HR and no they did not like me very much. I knew I did not have to answer questions, and furthermore I can stop any line of questioning until a Union Rep is available which I did. The people in the office were horrible and it was very unfortunate those were the people the company put in HR. I was even sent home because I refused to answer any questions with out my Union Rep there. They had to pay me and should not have sent me home either. They wanted answers about us filing a grievance over not getting breaks and the company not paying us for these breaks. I would go in listen to what they had to say, and wrote down everything that was said. I kept my answers down to yes or no, or no comment if I decided to answer anything with my Union Rep there in the office. I was not nasty either and kept a professional composure at all times. I also said nothing to any of my co-workers or supervisors either. Though many tried to get me to talk. To my co-workers the only thing I would tell them is talk to the Union Rep and that was it. Remember you are your best defense and people like to talk and twist the words you say. Some times it is better to say nothing in these situations. The Union grabbed our time sheets and found out it was true. All employees on night shift they had to pay for all of the missed breaks which turned into a lot of money the company had to pay out. The time sheets over 200 employee witness's vs the managers and HR. It was not a fun experience to go through. One thing the company did they made sure we got our breaks. If we did not they paid us as stated in the contract.

There were two HR employees who were really nice decent people both of them ended up resigning due to the practices that went on. This company is no longer in business because of these practices.

If you are at will Union or non Union make sure you know your state laws and if you do not understand something use the Labor Dept and I recommend avoid going to HR to not put yourself on the radar. Get a copy of your employee handbook and if the company has virtual handbook study it. Some times they will have all of the rules and regulations on computer only and some companies will not allow you to print it out either.

If that is the case remember all companies have this line " The company reserves the right to change policies at any time" or some other fancy line they use. Basically this means they have the right to make changes any time they want so you can throw that handbook out the door. This can also mean because they have the right to make changes at will it can mean they did not have to fire you, demote you, or they could have moved you else where to resolve a issue. I guarantee you will find the statement you have to look for it and find it. Take the time to know your companies policies and practices. This can come in handy if you do have a problem down the road. The trick is to be pro-active and keep it to yourself.

Your best bet is to call your states Dept of Labor and ask them any questions you have. You can set up an appointment with them too. In some cases you may want to get an attorney especially if it is a serious situation. If you are Union get a copy of your contract and know it by heart because it can save your job if something comes up. If you do not understand something then set up a meeting with your Union and find out. I did that on many occasions when I was unsure about something. You have a lot more rights than you think and this is what employers count on. You being in the dark about your rights and being at the mercy of the company. This is not true and knowledge is power. If you get a call or ask to visit HR you should not be nervous and let them do the talking to find out what the problem is. Once you know then depending on the issue you have plenty of options at your finger tips to protect your self and your job. Just do not let them think you know that. Be polite and pleasant but you don't have to freak out and spill your guts either. That would be very bad if you do that.

The number one trick is to apply as much stress and pressure as possible to get you to talk. Often people will crack when stressed especially if they think they might be fired. Your best bet is to tell the truth and write down EVERYTHING you say IF you do decide to answer questions. This way you have a copy. Save all email communications and any type of paper work they send you. If you are asked to sign something READ IT! If you do not understand what you are reading then DO NOT SIGN IT! If you have that going on you want to get a lawyer or legal aid for sure. Be pro-active not re-active in these situations. Think before you say or do anything and always weigh out the pros and cons.

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FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA Author

David - You're right about HR not wanting to speak with your attorney. I think it's good that you have one advising you, but expect the company to insist that they deal directly with you as the employee in regard to all employment matters, unless you have an EEOC or other formal complaint filed. (An internal complaint is first required, typically.)

You could consider calling the ethics line yourself and complaining about the inappropriate manner in which the investigation was carried out, if that is your position. Can you find something in the ethics code that the investigator has potentially violated? If you were never provided the ethics code previously, that would be a potential problem for them as well. These are just a few ideas for you.

Your attorney is right regarding at-will employment. In such cases, the employer or employee can sever the employment relationship for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. However, if there is a lack of a fair, neutral, and thorough investigation and they're apparently so eager to cut lose such a good performing employee with a spotless employment history of nearly 15 years, one would still have to wonder whether this is a pretext for something else (age and/or disability, as you mention). Your attorney can best advise you. Best of luck.

David Petty 6 months ago

When this all began I asked when I would be allowed to give my side of the story and at first she refused to answer that question but I pressed her as I said if I am not going to be allowed to detail my side then this interview ends as you will do whatever you like no matter what. She relented and said I will be given an opportunity but that has yet to happen. I was given a copy of Ethics code after they claim I violated it, they are claiming I did not notify them in a timely manner but since no HR is located within a 1000 miles I would not have known who to tell in the first place. These alleged acts detailed in the affidavits are just that as no Law Enforcement was involved or a party to verifying their claims. I pointed out anyone can claim anything and these claims they made were only witnessed to by these two parties who are suing me and she did say they could be lying but its the appearance of wrong doing at this point. I verified the Ethics code makes no statement whether concerning unsubstantiated private claims. I don't know if my Manager knows or not as he is located 2000 miles away, the HR person claims the investigation is private at this point.My Attorneys sent her a certified letter detailing events and she seemed upset I involved them and told me she would not speak to them. I have never had a black mark against me during my employment with them and have always gotten excellent reviews but my age could be a factor as I am 52 years old. I did check on a protective order but according to Arkansas criminal code a protective order can only be granted for safety reasons and if filed to protect financial matters would be denied. My Attorneys say since Arkansas is a work at will State they can fire me for any reason they like and not much I can do, I can file a wrongful termination with the EEOC but other than that not much else. I had considered I could file a claim for discrimination as I am disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act as a last ditch effort as I am deaf my attorneys advised me.

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FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA Author

David - This is awful and is enough to make someone never want to serve as an estate trustee when potential conflict is involved. Ask to make a statement before they fire you. Get a copy of the ethics code that you allegedly violated and get a detailed explanation as to how you violated it (specifically what part -- the lack of notification, the alleged acts detailed in the affidavits? When should you have notified them? Who should you have notified? Does the policy specifically address unsubstantiated private claims? Did your manager know at all? If so, was that ample notification). Regardless, if you are fired, then file for unemployment. Consider, too, whether they were they trying to get rid of you for other reasons -- age perhaps? Your lawyers can help you best. (Can you file a protective order?) I wish you luck.

David Petty 6 months ago

I work for Verizon and I am a Trustee of my Mother's estate and I have a estranged sister and her husband who are pretty bad people. Early last year they brought a civil lawsuit against me, my mother's trust and my mother trying to gain control of her wealth and property as its sizable. As soon as they filed this friouos lawsuit against us they begin calling the local Sheriff's dept on us on a daily basis for anything they could think of and when the Sherriff's dept filed no charges as this is related to a Civil case they were advised to file 3rd party affidavits against us by their attorney through the PA office to cause us legal trouble. Well they have racked up 8 charges against me by this method as Law enforcement isn't involved. Well these claims had been sitting out there for nearly a year and as they began to lose in the Civil case they pulled some strings and started coming after me over these 3rd party affidavits they had filed prior. Their attorney contacted our attorneys in February as I have 3 fighting this case and told them they would drop all them if we gave them what they demanded or else. Well the else was they contacted Verizon's Ethics hotline and told them about all these 3rd party affidavits and a ton of other untruths and such. I got a invite to discuss this with my HR Ethics officer and I provided them all the requested cases and what they were over and tried to discuss with them how all this got going and all these were civil in nature but they would not even hear my side of the story as I was told its the appearance of wrong doing and I violated section 1.9 ethics outside the workplace. I have provided all the requested info and every single complaint filed revolves this Civil lawsuit and states so yet Verizon claims I should have notified them and I do not see it that way and neither does my Attorneys as they tried to speak with my HR but HR refused to discuss. Anyway I have a meeting with my manager tomorrow and I expect to be fired. I have been employed with a perfect record since 2002 and gotten top reviews each year while employed. Any ideas?

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FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA Author

Sunshine1956 - Yes, your employer can give you performance counseling and/or a written warning if they have reason to believe that you violated company rules, policies, or values. Your fellow employee apparently reported a good faith allegation that she heard you making a threat. If it was NOT in fact a threat, if it did not happen at all, if the allegation was not made in good faith, or there were extenuating circumstances (e.g., you were contacted by someone against whom you have a restraining order), offer your explanation and any evidence that supports your position. If you were on break during the conversation and/or not on company property, you might specify that as well. However, I wouldn't expect privacy at work. Customers could've overheard you, for example.

In the future, it's best to have personal conversations where you cannot be overheard and misunderstood. If it's a written warning, you do have the option to not sign it, instead writing "Refuse to Sign." I've also seen employees do this, with some of them also writing a brief paragraph on the warning itself -- their rebuttal. You can always contact an attorney if you need to.

Sunshine1956 6 months ago

Question. My boss called me into a closed door counseling session because another department supervisor came to her in reference to the following :

An individual overheard me talking on my phone out of doors with various background noises going on she went to her boss and said I made some derogatory comments. Isn't this something that can be categorized as hearsay? They didn't know whom I was talking to or what the context of the conversation was about but assumed it was a threat. Now I am being counseled and given a waring. Is this legal? Should I obtain the advise of a Labor Attorney?

Thank you.

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FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA Author

Oh, Hubris, you certainly do have a dilemma, particularly since you are so highly specialized and have been employed in a visible leadership capacity. As an HR professional and I/O psychologist, I'd never recommend that a person lie on a job application or during an interview. There is usually language to the effect that one will face immediate job termination in such a case.

You want to actually get to an interview, so leaning on your professional network for job leads and references will be important. In the best of circumstances, you can learn from the experience and develop a short-answer script to respond to the tough reason-for-leaving question.

While you search for a new job, remember these things:

1) People are often complained against in the work environment (especially managers). Anyone can *allege* anything.

2) Harassment or discrimination complaints against managers are not unheard of.

3) NOT all investigations are substantiated, as in your case.

4) "Management style" issues are often found, even in unsubstantiated cases.

5) People are fired for cause or resign in lieu of termination every day, yet it does not mean they are unemployable.

Although it will be a challenge, you had a bad experience but can move on from this.

On another note, your situation does make me wonder how a potential employer would detect and verify the information in a background check if your records were indeed sealed? I'd suspect one of three things: 1) you're being a bit paranoid that potential employers would ask questions in such detail when in fact they don't know about the unsubstantiated harassment allegations; 2) your investigation was not kept confidential by your employer; or 3) you divulged it and it became gossip. Negative employment references may be actionable, but you'd have to know about them first and consult an attorney who can advise you on your particulars. An attorney could also advise you whether it's a good idea in your situation to have an employment background check done on yourself for the purpose of learning what your former employer is disclosing.

I hope this helps.

Hubris 6 months ago

As a PCA that retired in lieu of a demotion or termination in a public agency I can attest that much of what you said in your article is true, other then the fact that my interviews were with a police investigator on light duty. The charges where racial and sexual harassment, both of which where not substantiated by the investigation. The summary of the investigation was that I was just not a kind enough person. Long story short I settled for a small payment and a sealing of records of the investigation and a recommendation from the head of the department. I concurred with the assessment and have been successful in my work with councilors and such and feel I am ready to get back to work.

My question now is; after 20 years as a highly successful manager in a specialized area I am now having to answer THOSE questions: was I ever the subject of an investigation, did I resign in lieu of termination ect.

Any advice other then to be truthful? I know what I would do with my application if I read it!!

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FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA Author

confused - If you are truly not involved, you have nothing to worry about. Without knowing the details -- it sounds like a large scale issue that involves a lot of employees, but that's just my hunch. Make them prove it, regardless. Ask what exactly you allegedly stole, total value of items, when, how, what policy you violated? (Sometimes behaviors that used to be legitimately permitted suddenly get labeled as stealing because, for example, a new policy takes effect and is not communicated effectively.) If you have evidence you didn't do this, then present it (keep copies for yourself). Be helpful and walk them through it, explaining why you are not involved and it cannot possibly be true. Don't get riled up. Keep a level head. Review all relevant policies ahead of time to be sure you did not make mistakes. Ask for investigation updates and time frames about when this will be over and tell them this is very stressful. In order to concentrate on your job fully you really need to know as soon as possible when you're no longer being considered "under investigation." Hope this helps.

confused 8 months ago

I was contacted by HR that I'm being investigated in an internal audit about a theft issue. It shows me connected to a comp ski ticket scam combined with my employee comp tickets. Lots of names I don't know connected to my legit comps and the non legit tickets. don't know what to do

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FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA Author

pinto2011 - I don't envy the person who is in that situation. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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pinto2011 10 months ago from New Delhi, India

Indeed it is very emotionally challenging and difficult to manage for a person who just got tangled in this nefarious web. You have well elaborated the course of action and the mental state.

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FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA Author

Frustrated - I'm sorry you've found yourself in this situation, especially right before the holidays. I cannot predict what they're going to do, but to me, your snoop of a supervisor seems to be lobbying for something less than discharge. Managers really don't want to lose employees who perform well, but they also don't want them posting on social media what is even perceived as private company information. If you think it's not private data, by all means challenge that assumption or ask for detailed clarification (i.e., a specific metric even without employee names may give away competitive information regarding customer satisfaction, speed, volume, etc.).

Their decision will rest on key factors such as: 1) company policy, 2) what employees have been trained on, 3) what employees specifically signed or acknowledged electronically regarding taking photos and private company information, 4) your work history, 5) and how they've handled similar situations. Unfortunately, you've learned the hard way to keep work life *completely* off social media because it ALWAYS finds a way back.

I wish you well.

Fustrated 12 months ago

So to condense this without loss of detail.

I work for a call center. I recently posted a screenshot of my rankings within my new position to share with my friends and family on my Facebook which is private. I zoomed in so as not to show anything but names and last initials and the time it took to complete the customer interaction. I captioned under the photo telling everyone how proud I was to be performing at a high level at my job, and that if you push hard anything is possible.

On another day I posted a picture of all of my friends and I sitting at a table at the end of the day and the caption says " The best part of the day is when I leave this M*********a.

Mind you I never had coworkers to my Facebook and my page is private so not to have anyone just dropping by. Well on Wednesday my supervisor comes to me and tells me, someone sent these to me and I had to escalate it to HR. She then tells me she will tell me what decision they make after she hears back. However she understands I didn't have any malicious intent and I was just proud of how I was doing. She said the stats ( time to complete a call) were proprietary and it was against conduct. And that there were people in the image who didn't know they were being photographed.

I emailed HR and asked to speak with them in person, seeing as there were no plans to speak to me. I was granted 1 half our the next day.

I went down and explained to her the honest truth, which is that I did not post those images with ill intention. Every one I know is constantly taken pictures. I had the director hold my camera while we had a party in the cafeteria where me and my friends were dancing. No one has ever said don't take pictures. It is something that leadership and everyone does. Yes true we watched a video when we started about this stuff. But honestly who is going to Remeber every detail from and hour long video. I know better than the serious things like protecting customers information. I made her are that I loved and appreciate by job, which is true. I owned up to the wrong doing and told her I was happy I was being called out on this because I would hate to be doing the company or anyone else harm. I told her this was an easy fix, and that I could agree to never post any pictures or text about the company on social media again.

I did not however go into the fact that I knew my supervisor had to be the person snooping on my page through someone else's page. It so happens that I am from a small city and I now live in a large city. I don't know my supervisor but we are from the same city. I knew she was lying when she said somebody gave her the images. I do not add coworkers to my page. So I was smart enough to connect the dots by looking up the supervisors page. I find that me and her have one friend in common, which is my friends wife. My friends wife however did not know that my supervisor was my supervisor to say hey, look what the guy on your team was doing. Therefore the only way this happened is by the supervisor snooped through my friends wife's Facebook. No on else on my page knows anyone I work with because they live in the town I'm from. I didn't focus on that or point any fingers during the HR meeting, and when she told me the info was not produced by HR, I made her aware that I didn't want to point fingers. I told her my focus was the fact that I was unintentionally doing something wrong, and I was happy it was being brought to my intention. I told her at the end of the day, if I was not doing something against conduct then the person snooping wouldn't have anything to hand off.

Anywho, the HR rep told me her boss was on vacation and there would be consequences although She does not know what, and they would be in touch with me on the 18th.

My boss who obviously thinks I'm dumb keeps telling me she doesn't think I'm going to lose my job. But I know it was her who started this mess, therefore why else would she do it unless she wanted me to lose my job. She kept telling me she knows I'm a good employee and they need me and she thinks HR will know that too.

By the way I did. Sweat during the HR talk, but that's because I have anxiety, none of the other red flags were there. I spoke clearly and candidly with eye contact. I don't feel like sweating should be a thing. People swear for many reasons.

With your experience, what do you think will come of this?

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fpherj48 13 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

FA....I can understand and relate. These situations were the most dreaded part of my job. In my career, the way our office structure was set up, the clinical director doubled as a conflict mediator. Although there were very few issues due to the very nature of our work, a rare problem might arise.

I was able to create a process that worked best for all involved. In 20 years, I recall only once that resulted in a termination. Luckily for me, when it did arrive at this point of seriousness....I could hand off the actual terminating to the really BIG GUY! Whew....I hated even the thought of it. I admire your strength and stamina! Peace, Paula

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FlourishAnyway 13 months ago from USA Author

Anonymous - I wouldn't go into details at all. Say you're looking for a job with more (fill in the blank ... upward mobility, work/life balance, etc.) and find work quickly so you don't marinate in the negativity of what happened. Employers tend not to like to hire those with a history of conflict. Search for work through contacts, friends, that supervisor and others who believe in you and your skills. Everyone can have one bad situation that goes terribly wrong. If it's not indicative of a broader character issue, they'll likely be willing to assist you in finding other employment. Don't let this define you.

Anonymous 13 months ago

Yesterday my employment was terminated following alleged investigation. I was never afforded the opportunity to speak on my own behalf. The reasons cited on the termination documentation untrue. 99% was pure fabrication and the other 1% was a semblance of truth stretched way out proportion. At least one other employee was also terminated this week under similar allegations. Per that employee, the reasons cited were also fabricated.

In trying to move on from this very upsetting experience, what would be the best way to explain the situation to prospective employers? I'm not going to lie about what happened, but being "defensive" probably won't help either. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

By the way, I did receive a letter of recommendation from my former supervisor.

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FlourishAnyway 14 months ago from USA Author

Anon - There seems to be some history of conflict between you and this other employee. I'd be concerned to the extent that you were previously counseled, warned or otherwise disciplined or received some type of documented feedback about your behavior towards him or her. If you've been coached or disciplined for treating others poorly you might also have a problem on your hands. I'd be concerned about two weeks without pay and the speediness of the investigation. If you're a salaried employee they may be running into some legal issues there in denying you pay this long. They don't have to give you specific incidents but you should be able to present your perspective. Focus briefly on the value you have provided to the company, your clean work history that is I assume free of conflict (?) and then stick to the facts of whatever happened. Get yourself some help for the work stress too. Good luck.

Anonymous 14 months ago

Yesterday I was suspended, up to two weeks without pay, pending investigation due to being accused of bullying at work. Though I inquired, the HR rep would not provide me with ANY information - not even a specific incident where I allegedly bullied someone! Yes, I have had issues with a co-worker for most of this year. This person has been rude, argumentative, etc. toward me. I have talked with my supervisor, manager, and an HR rep (the same one who suspended me). This person has also previously complained about me. What really bothers me is, up until my suspension, I have never received any warnings, notices, or remedial actions. In fact, I have not even been supplied with written information regarding the suspension! For the several years I have worked for this company I have always received good reviews. The person I have had issues with joined our group late last year. I have already been under stress from work, due to the high turn-over and consistently being understaffed. I have worked overtime just to try to keep up on tasks. The stress has affected my physically, and now this additional stress has exacerbated my physical symptoms. I have never been terminated from a position, but now feel that is a possibility. I hate to say it, but I don't have much faith in our H.R. department to uncover the truth. I am a single parent and depend greatly upon my income.

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FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA Author

frozenink - It can be a harrowing experience for employees, especially if they have a lot of financial and other obligations that rest on their employment. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment. Have a great week.

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frozenink 17 months ago

This is really interesting and useful. Voted up too. I think being accused for a wrongdoing in workplace is not an unusual thing. Sometimes I get accused for something I did not do in my family! It's really not a pleasant experience and then we have the HR hurdle to pass. I like how you said you are ruining someone else's day. And really helpful tips here =)

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FlourishAnyway 17 months ago from USA Author

MT - Thank you for providing your perspective. When you get a good HR rep it can be terrific, and a bad one can be nearly unspeakable.

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Minnetonka Twin 17 months ago from Minnesota

I've seen both sides of the coin on this issue. I've worked at agencies that had good HR and some that were terrible. It's a scary thing to be called in to your boss or HR, and being at a toxic work place makes it even scarier. Thanks for a really well written article and the great tips as someone who knows the inner sanctum of HR.

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Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

Thanks Flourish. That a decade ago and like they say, ancient history. :-)

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FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA Author

Kristen - At least you didn't invest more than a week in those rotten people. A big Boo and Hiss to them.

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Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

My pleasure, my friend. That happened to me once, when I had a job as a medical file clerk for one week. I was accused of misfiling the files in order, when I didn't do anything wrong. Nonetheless, I lost that job, when someone else should be blamed for it and not me. Oh well.

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FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA Author

Kristen - Thank you for taking the time to read. Being accused of wrongdoing can be quite jarring, whether an employee has done something wrong or not. So much is at risk when you're talking about employment.

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Kristen Howe 19 months ago from Northeast Ohio

This was a powerful hub Flourish on what to do and how to avoid being accused of something wrong. Very insightful and informative, too! Voted up!

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FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA Author

John - Particularly since you are no longer employed, consider consulting an attorney immediately regarding wrongful discharge. HR has the responsibility during investigations to be neutral, and your assertion that the investigator intimidated, threatened, mocked, etc. is disconcerting. It sounds like there are a lot more facts that need to be uncovered.

john 19 months ago

Hi All. Great post and great conversations.

I do pose an additional question, what actions should be taken if HR flat out admits they do not believe you (Manager Role) and begins to intimidate, threaten, mock ect the PCA and demanding they "come clean" or else? In the end the PCA lost his position a week later after returning from PTO with no chance to properly document and share the HR actions taken the week prior until moments after the termination for "integrity" was announced. Also, it was verbally confirmed by PCA the termination determination was made by HR not the PCA Director or VP.

Additionally, the the company (5000+ staff in NYC), has not paid the annual bonus (due out each April) and shorted the final paycheck by over 200 PTO hours.

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FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA Author

justmesuzanne - Thank you for your comment! Glad you found it useful and hope others do as well.

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justmesuzanne 20 months ago from Texas

This and much other BS is exactly why I have not worked outside my home for six years and never will again! Good and thorough treatment of an egregious situation! Voted up and useful! :)

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FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA Author

Mick Beet - Thank you for stopping by.

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Mick Beet 21 months ago from Australia

Great writing....

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FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA Author

Jena - Your husband is doing the right thing to raise the issue with his employer's Human Resources department. Take a look at the EEOC website or the state human rights website for your state for more information about his employment rights (or seek an attorney's advice for your particular situation). From a practical angle, right now it's important to document all conversations related to the employment matter (e.g., time, date, all people present, who said what). That's assuming he hasn't done so already. When he talks with the HR investigator, he'll need be able to cite specifically why and how he believes the mistreatment was related to race/ethnicity rather than, for instance, personal dislike or some other factor that is not protected by law. There had to be some reason(s) why your husband would point-blank ask his manager the ethnicity question. He needs to bullet point those out for the investigator clearly and concisely and describe management's acknowledgement of wrongdoing (who else was party to this conversation? did the manager verbally SAY that it was ethnicity or did he just not deny it?). Your husband needs to be clear about the remedy he seeks (e.g., old job back, pay raise of what amount?). I hope the right thing happens.

Jena 21 months ago


My husband is a hispanic and has worked with all white males for the same company for 12 years. He has always been a good and loyal worker, getting along with everyone. Well a new Manager at the rock quarry came to manage there and decided to remove him from his current position and send him traveling again. When my husband asked for an explanation, he never got one, they(mgmt) just kept saying they would try to get him a raise. This went on for approximately 2 months. He then went and asked the Assistant manager why they were treating him this way and that if he was a white guy this would've never happened and the assistant manager agreed with him, but told him that had already gave his prior position to a white guy and he couldn't have it back. He recently filed a complaint with his HR dept and investigation starts Monday. Also, for the 12 years my husband has worked there he has never had a raise. If you could offer us any advice on this matter it would be greatly appreciated.

Nizz77 2 years ago

Hello, this article has really made me feel better. I was actually just sent home from work due to a complaint made against me. I have a pretty good idea of who made the complaint and why. Last Friday my supervisor has been looking into promoting me, the other employee who is currently my equal is who I suspect made the allegations. She is of Hispanic origin and very religious. Prior to her promotion to lead (about 3 weeks ago) she would come into my office and make Mexican jokes, she even told my supervisor to call her a fatty because she needs to lose weight. So yes, I did joke around with her regarding the things she would come to my office and bring up so I didn't think anything of it. Since the possibility of me taking on a management role has come into play, she came into my office to tell me that the jokes about her Hispanic origin are offensive.....although she starts them. And now a complaint has been filed against, a few days after my supervisor goes to HR and the operations manager to tell them I deserve the promotion. It's humliating having my supervisor and the operations manager tell me to leave the office a few days after the recognition of being a fantastic employee deserving of a new title. Ultimately I think the investigation will conclude with very little guilt on my end, like I said I did joke with her when she would joke about it first. I didn't use good judgment there but never did I think she would stoop this low because she is resentful of my status within the firm. What is bothering me is not so much the complaint itself but how do I treat this co-worker moving forward? Obviously I want to have as little contact with her as possible. What do I say when she comes into my office to chat? Would it be inappropriate to ask her to leave if it's not work related? And also, what about the potential promotion, how long should I have to wait to being that up again? As far as I see it, I don't have a chance right now even if the outcome is that my action was unintentional.

Marshmallow14 2 years ago

thank you and I am trying but it's easier said than done as it could affect future employment if somehow came out. It makes me feel like if I don't fight it I am agreeing to it though I am not. It would not feel weird to work at this particular place if was able was first time things were looking up and I did not do anything so if I was able to it would not bother me but I know I am not. Again if it was that simple I would let it go but it's not as it does affect my future in many ways. My family has suffered with me trying to keep my cat & I afloat for the last year (as had very little work since). It just feels like they are not saying or did not follow proper protocol if they did do some kind of investigation it was one sided. If I could find another company to give me a chance than I would be able to put it behind me better.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Marshmellow14 - Understandably, you are upset. As a temporary employee, the agency probably pulled you to satisfy the client, regardless of whether they believed you did something inappropriate. I know that doesn't feel fair. They are thinking about their $$$ relationship with their client. At this point, the issue is behind you so please don't ruminate about it because it won't help. It would be weird going back to that worksite anyhow, right? If you know you did nothing wrong, then that is ALL that really matters.

I know you probably need the money. Express your availability and interest in working with this temp agency at other locations as well as other temp agencies that you are registered with. Look at other career options or side jobs as possibilities. Don't let this situation bog you down. You know what happened. Learn from it and move on. Leave it in the past.

Best of luck to you.

Marshmallow14 2 years ago

nope you have misunderstood. there was a separate accusation two years ago at a different company through a different agency. NO NOTHING MEDICAL as what they claim did not happen. Even at my worst (as everyone one has their worst) I would not do what they claimed in either case. Cannot discuss (tried) with the agencies as they were not there and they are required to believe the client. I just find it odd knowing it did not happen and claim the client did investigation which I thought requires all parties involved which is not a complete investigation otherwise. If I had actually done what they said I would not be sharing this information. I would not jeopardize a good job (temp or not) esp. now as I have my kitty to support again even at my worst I would not have had that kind of reaction for anything. It is hurtful when I know I did nothing wrong in both cases but can't even get fair "trial" so to speak (actually I got nothing but finding out later what accused of when less time to do anything about, if could). As far as the newer accusation (which is far worse than the 1st one at other place years ago) I can work other assignments but they do not have many other clients. I am with other agencies as well. I wish I didn't know about the accusation as would make it easier to be dealing with work search as if came out I could say "I didn't know" "I was not aware of any claims" but since I am and can't do anything to fight it, just makes me feel like not much of a person though I did nothing wrong as claimed.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

marshmellow14 - Let me see if I understand your situation correctly. You are a temporary employee working for an agency. Your employer is the agency, although you work at a client's worksite. An employee at the client's worksite has alleged misconduct which has unfortunately cost you this temporary job assignment. It has happened previously at this same worksite, although the situation was not as outrageous.

Should you choose to do so, take up the issue with your employer, the temporary agency, rather than their client. Also, since this has happened twice, consider what explanation you have for being falsely accused in a similar manner two times. Is there medical or other information that can explain away your situation? You might approach the temporary agency to clear your name and express your sincere desire to work (at another client site). Contain your anger if you want to work for the temp agency again, as it's in your best interest.

Also, you say you break down into tears sometimes. Seek professional support to get you through this very stressful time. There is nothing wrong with doing so.

Marshmallow14 2 years ago

I haven't figured out how to reply to a person's reply but if anyone has any thoughts/suggestions or words of wisdom, regarding my original post and including this (I am not sure if this was in original post) as I recently learned they supposedly did an investiagition but how can they do that wihout talking to all parties? They just took to people's word cause they said thye saw me do something (no idea why) that I didn't do. I had no chance to say anything as I was jobless before even knew of accusation. I hate having my hands tied; only thing is if I had known with some other incidents (one similar but not near as bad and one totally different) the one right had "refuse discipline" maybe I could have done something and things may be so much better, but I am constantly treading water and feel like barely got head above water or sometimes feels like I have both feet off cliff and almost touching the ground (not in a good way) slipping away and lately as those trying to help are getting or have been dragged down with me. I have a kitty to take care of (and no his name is not marshmallow lol) he is my family.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Marshmellow14 - That is some story. Thank you for sharing your experience this early morning.

Marshmallow14 2 years ago

How's this one for you, I was on one assignment through temp agency for what is supposed to be a good company then when work got slow the company had another assignment for us which was much better hours and more my type of thing. After 3 days that and being told I did well, (this was a Friday) I had the Monday off for prior commitment planned in advance., that Monday I was told by agency that they told me not to come back to the assignment- very confused and puzzled, I told them about the end of the day Friday. The agency said they'd research it and within week maybe all I was told is someone heard him crying in the bathroom (which was on my way out on Friday afternoon, my tears sometimes fall for no reason). At the time I was told I could still work for other people in that company, but two months later (won't get into how I wound up talking to them to find out) find out someone told the supervisor I was well (not that I have problem saying what the accusation was it is false, but being public forum try to keep general) just say "abusing company property; with body part" which did not happen so how they can say they saw something that did not happen. I did not get any opportunity to speak on my behalf and I recently learned they said they did an investigation but how can that be when I was never talked to. I want copy of that so called report and anything else they claim they have (which they can't have anything other than a verbal statement that is a lie). why would they make this up you would have to ask them, they could have mistaken a sound for something else but that ridiculous of an accusation- they did not see anything and nothing more than crying occurred. I did not even get a chance to "refuse to consent to their decision as was not aware of that". How to deal with something like that and I have been falsely accused twice (though similar but not near as outrageous as this most recent time)

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Deborah - I appreciate the kudos, especially from someone so accomplished as yourself. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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DeborahNeyens 2 years ago from Iowa

Great advice from someone who has been on the other side of the table. As the corporate employment attorney, I rarely handled the investigations myself and instead advised the HR professionals who were doing so. However, in a few particularly sensitive cases, I was the one doing the interviewing. I learned quickly the importance of keeping a box of tissues handing. Whether someone is guilty of misconduct or not (or even just being interviewed as a witness), it is a very difficult and emotional situation. Having these tips beforehand would benefit anyone.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

PegCole17 - That notetaking role was more important than you thought! Thanks for the compliments.

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PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

That must have been a difficult job to do, Flourish. I can see where your objectivity would have been a real plus in that role. Over the dozen years I worked for a telecom provider, there were many instances of intervention from Human Resources on a variety of issues, thankfully, none that involved accusations of wrongdoing on my part.

I learned something of value here. I have always been a note taker and never considered it as a dominant behavior. There have been times when I called upon my notes to substantiate the issues at hand. Interesting...

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

mathira - Thank you for reading and commenting. Have a lovely day.

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mathira 2 years ago from chennai

Flourish, excellent tips and very practical too. You have done a thorough analysis of a problem which is very relevant today.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

ajwrites57 - Thanks for the kudos. I appreciate your reading.

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ajwrites57 2 years ago from Pennsylvania

Superb suggestions FlourishAnyway! The workplace can be a treacherous place at times!

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Jackie - Thanks for your support! Have a terrific weekend and stay cool!

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Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

A great study to help anyone having this problem! ^+

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

nice lad - You need to talk with your HR department to try to understand the evidence. If you've done nothing wrong, you shouldn't have anything to worry about, right?

nice lad 2 years ago

could anyone please give some advice on accusations of bulling?

the matter is now in HRs hands the claims are false i wouldn't risk my full time job! i just need to know what evidence they have got to have against me to falsely accuse me

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Nice Worker - It sounds like management has decided -- fairly or not -- that you have a performance issue. However, from what you're describing there are opportunities for them communicate in a way that is *clear and more actionable* regarding what is wrong with your performance and what they want you to change. Not being able to cite examples of a problem behavior is troublesome. Using multiple managers and looping in HR is common when someone has a "target on their back" so to speak. You need to decide whether 1) this is actually true or whether they are being unnecessarily harsh on you for some reason and 2) what you're going to do about it. Your choices are to adjust your performance to their expectations if you can nail down precisely what those expectations are, file a complaint (although they brought HR in from the start) or look for other work. Generally, it's best NOT to quit a job unless you have another job in hand. Perhaps it's possible that with another employer you might find a more direct organizational culture and clearer performance expectations? I wish you well.

Nice Worker 2 years ago


This seemed like an intelligent article, and I wanted to ask for some advice here. I just got blindsided with formal complaints that went all the way up to hr. I think the best way to provide a solution is to understand the problem. So I will do my best to explain here...

I work for a company who's customers are companies like microsoft, verizon, att, and other telecommunication carriers. This is my 3rd contract that I just started 3 months ago, and I was brought here to help maintenance this automation system the company built. It's basic function is to load builds on mobile devices and run a set of tests chosen by the engineers and their teams. The system itself is very highly unstable, always breaks things, and highly arcane. It requires heavy maintenance costs and non of the devs are happy with it. The team who developed this system is in 100% denial of it's complexity and instability, and is shifting blame down on both the customers and within the team itself. A few examples (1. vp schedules a meeting and starts calling Microsoft very arrogant who can't handle the automation system we built. 2. The system automation lead had a meeting scheduled with a staff manager from the last team I worked with. The staff manager asked the system lead "when you guys ship down a prod update on us, and we find a bug in your code, who's responsibility is it to fix it?". The system leads answer? "It's your responsibility."). This lack of taking ownership and responsibility has snowballed down to low techs of the team (such as myself), and as a result has caused a very negative and toxic environment to work in.

Things I try to do...

My day to day tasks are onboarding devices to the system, and triaging testruns that go bad for engineers. As I try to provide solutions to help make sure we run into less problems and everyones lives easier, I receive the following feedback:

"Onboard devices without SIM cards even though management told you not to. It's what we pay you for and you need to show that you have stopped slacking off."

"Why is are there devices missing from the rack along with a spaghetti cable mess? (as if I know why or even if this happened)"

"It's unacceptable that you take time to write some automation code to automate our processing for onboarding these devices. You need to be triaging or preping/onboarding devices only!"

These were red flags, but as an adult I decide to not let them get to me and calmly try to let the person know what really happened. Next the surprize meeting from HR Rep:

She was very nice and I told her I was trying my best to work with this toxic environment (in details) and work with elusive requirements. I told her this is the first I have heard, and I'm open to have a meeting with my leads and managers about what it is I should or should not be doing, or should or should not be saying. She thought that was good. I took the initiative emailing my leads and managers letting them know I was willing to work with them and correct any work ethics from myself they thought might need correcting.

They scheduled the meeting and it was an hour of bashing me with little feedback from my part. The following was said:

· I’ve been spreading negativity throughout the lab and the team, and I need to work on that. (The two examples were... 1. when I asked if we could start documenting a process being done so we wouldn't lose track causing future problems that would be hard to find. 2. Saying I need access to this thing in order to be able to triage it. They felt these two things were very negative and unprofessional.)

· I need to produce more quality work. Lately my work has been low quality probably from multi-tasking too much. (No examples could be provided)

· Engineers try to go around me and find me very unapproachable to come to with their issues. I need to have this more of a nice guy aura who is here to help solve your problems.

· Sometimes the culture of people is to be indirect and I need to be able to feel out their sensitivity and be willing to help them even when they don’t ask for it.

· I need to try harder to unblock myself before asking for help.

· If I'm unhappy working here then I should leave and find another place.

· We got together and discussed this and felt it was necessary to bring it to HR before coming to you.

After the following was all said. I calmly asked if they could provide examples or in the future come to me when these types of scenarios happened so I could correct them and improve myself as a valuable employee to this company. They agreed. So far nothing has been said as far as any correction behavior.

I don't want this type of environment to be the cause that kills my career. Any further suggestions?


-Remaining anonymous so this post does not get me in trouble.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Sarah - I'm not sure I understand, but I'd refer you to your work rules. If someone else stole your employee ID card and used it without your permission, definitely point that out, and do so in writing. Fraud implies deception, typically for some type of gain.

sarah 2 years ago

Is it right to suspend an employee if they were never been told that swiping another club card on other transaction is fraud?and what can an employee do if they are being unaware of the situation?

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

SRD - It sounds like you have been through quite some extended ordeal, and I sincerely hope that you are seeking qualified professional counseling to help bring you to a place of stability and greater strength. Thank you for sharing your story, as it does depict how investigations can turn people's lives upside down. It's not simply about "work" all the time. Please seek qualified professional support and take care of yourself.

SRD 2 years ago

I am a male, 54 years old. I have never been in any sort of trouble in all my life. I am (was?) successful, I have been married for 32 years to the same gal I met when I was 18. But today I am falling into an abyss. I am devastated and suicidal.

It all started when I went on a 3 week course to receive my Life License in Insurance. The employer booked us in a nearby hotel for the 3 week course. At the beginning of the 3rd week I was called into the personel office and accused by company security of sexual impropriety 5 days previous involving 2 young females. I was accused of wrapping my arms around a young @20 yr. old female classmate from behind and touching her breast and to another I was supposed to have put a foot on a chair (while fully clothed) within proximity to a females face which she found offensive.

I was completely blindsided, on the spot I could not recall the events of that night (5 days previous). It was 2 against 1 and they sided with the two young females.

After the fact by checking credit card receipts, room service bills and football telecasts I was able to determine on the night in question the 2 young females came into my room @11:30 PM with my roommate while I was sleeping and wanted me to get up and play some sort of drinking game with them (they needed a 4th person). I was not interested in playing and asked them to leave.

But there on the spot I could not recall, it seemed as each day/evening ran into each other. They had there story rehearsed. It was 2 against 1 and promptly I was fired and escorted off the property and sent to the hotel and supervised as I packed my belongings and was escorted off the hotel site. It was embarrassing, humiliating.

I have no idea why they did it. I believe the one female was offended by something I said in class. The other girl who was not the least bit attractive kept calling me "Dad" and flirted with me the whole course. That was creepy considering I have a daughter of my own. They got wind one of the instructors asked me to speak to some of the younger employees in class about drug use at the hotel. He said "if I have to tell them then that means I know and if I know I have to fire them". This may have been a reason....I don't know.

That night on the way home (a 3 hr. drive) from being let go I was full of despair. I swallowed a whole package of sleeping pills, locked the door to a truck stop bathroom and hung myself with a rope made from a green garbage bag. Someone tired of waiting smashed in the door, found me hanging from a stall. I was taken to the hospital and put in the cuckoo ward for a week.

It sounds silly to dwell on it still. There were no police charges. It was no big deal....really. But I cannot let it go. It has been months and I cannot go back to work. I tried, I got a job and worked at a place for a couple months but was paranoid the young girls thought I was some sort of pervert. I quit. One of the older women kept touching me and putting her arm around me and asking for hugs. She thought it funny why I cringed when she did touch me. One day I told her why (the events of the course). She looked at me and said that's crazy....even more reason you need hugs. Crazy indeed.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Ariana - First, I'd wonder how both your shift manager and two full time employees knew about an investigation before you. But that's another matter. I wouldn't ask at that point because you're making it a bigger deal than it needs to be. Wait to be contacted officially and go through the process. Just because something is reported or complained about doesn't mean they are automatically in trouble or that it's true. Even when it is true, the outcome may not be disastrous. Stay calm and as focused as possible, keep the issue to yourself (no discussion even with the best of work friends), explain yourself rationally, connect with the investigator, describe the challenge of being a lone female amongst many males because you say that's an issue here. Only if true, tell them this came out of nowhere and that while you're a joker (which I recommend you curb immediately), there's nothing flirtatious intended. You'll find out from questioning what exact behaviors are perceived as potentially inappropriate. If you've been hugging employees, sitting on laps, exchanging dirty jokes, slapping other employees on their rears playfully, for example, that's not good. Good luck to you.

Ariana 2 years ago

Hello Flourish,

I just recently heard that someone logged an anonymous complaint that I had "flirtatious behavior at work" they bypassed HR and went straight to corporate. My acting shift manager and my two full times made me aware that there will be an investigation. I'm nervous, I'm a friendly person by nature but I am never flirtatious with my employee's or peers, I'm a joker and laid back but I'm in a serious committed relationship and would never dream of engaging in flirtatious or sexual relationships within work. What do I do? I am extremely nervous. I know some of my friendliness could be misinterpreted and I do have good friendships with co-workers, but so do many others. I feel like I am being targeted because I am in a work force where my gender is lowly represented. Please help me!!

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Joseph - You might try to claim retaliation if the person you previously turned in is in a decision making role. Or, a defense that you're being harassed because of a psychological disability that is perceived or real (assuming there's evidence of that). However, if you've previously received discipline for threatening conduct, you're on HR's radar. If it's not this time, it may be another time. You may want to consult an attorney for personal advice (as I am not an attorney), allthewhile looking for a new position asap. It's easier to find a position when you've not been fired, if that's where you think this could be going. If you have a union, work with them on representation, of course.

Joseph Rickey 2 years ago

@flourishanyway I am a Correctional Officer in the IL Dept of Corrections. Yesterday I was accused of Harassment/ Misconduct because somehow for some reason someone found a cartoon character that I had drawn of my ex fiancé who was thinking of getting a job where I work. Around the picture I had wrote different things about her that annoy me. I did this and do this fairly regularly because it helps with my anxiety and stress to write things down. This was one of the things recommended to do by my psychiatrist. The reason I did it of my ex was that the place I work for has many officers and staff that love drama and love to try to provoke people, all I could see was her there coming at me as a result of what someone made up just to watch drama. With it racing through my mind in my barely controlled anxiety I thought to write it down in picture form with words. Now having said that, no one was around me when I drew the picture. The picture was not sexual in any way. The picture also had no names or any other form of indication on it of whom it may be. Now, as I stated somehow the picture which was meant for me and my relief and was kept private in my desk suddenly when I was away from my desk was conveniently discovered. I say conveniently because the same day it was discovered (the same day it was drawn) was the same day I turned in a female coworker and her Lt Husband in an incident report for unprofessionalism and rude behavior. Now, suddenly the picture is being claimed to be this particular female coworker. I willingly contacted my Internal Affairs Lt to find out if he knew what was going on because my Shift Commander suddenly changed my post assignment. After he told me what I had been accused of I willing told him what the picture really was of. I (since I will be going out of town on military duty for several weeks) voluntarily went to his office and asked to sit down and do an interview with him just to get it out of the way since I had nothing to hide and so that me being gone to conflict with him getting his job done. I did everything you posted in this article but I have been completely and utterly "screwed" before by their "kangaroo court" employee review board. I have received a total of 11 days suspension for "threatening conduct" even though their was absolutely no proof and no indication in the report or investigation of me ever having threatened the accuser. I have no faith in their system their and fear for my job simply because I was doing something that my psychologist recommended I I have more anxiety. I can't lose my job... Wife, 2 Kids, Another baby on the way... I have turned in a copy of the incident report about the female coworker and her Lt Husband to IL Department of Affirmative Action. I also turned in an incident report that reports that I was placed in a different "less desirable" post position at work due to retaliation for turning in a Senior Coworker and her Lt Husband. What else can I do besides sit back and wait?

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Predrag - Being accused of wrongdoing -- guilty or not, at work or elsewhere -- can certainly make people uneasy. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a terrific day!

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dis-cover 2 years ago from Serbia, Belgrade

Hi FlourishAnyway, thoroughly enjoyed this hub, lots of useful and interesting information. Great advices too. Thank you and voted up as useful!

Best wishes Predrag

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Suzanne - Sometimes people need to ask themselves if that's the kind of place they want to work. Bad management can be bad for not only your career but also your health and family. Thanks for reading and commenting.

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Suzanne Day 2 years ago from Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Good hub! I haven't been accused of wrongdoing in the workplace, but I have seen others who have been accused. I think your advice on acting professionally and with dignity until it is sorted out is well merited. Then again, sometimes there are smaller companies where management gets to make the final call and sometimes management are the ones doing the accusing, which can make it very tricky indeed. Voted useful!

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Karen R Anderson - You have experienced quite a lot and have touched on many, many legal issues, from allegations of illegal workplace harassment and discrimination to criminal conduct to duty of fair representation (union) issues. Whatever happens with your complex situation, take care of yourself emotionally. Sometimes it's good to just start fresh, if that's an option.

Karen R Scott 2 years ago

If I could have received fair legal help! Many years ago I was a correction officer in a male maximum prison in Lebanon Ohio for a year. I was a good correction officer and I should not have been fired or laid off, whichever they want to call it. I should not have to be forced to have sex with another male correction officer just to keep my job. I should not have to be black either to keep my job. One year three days before my union kicked in they orchestrated sabotage of my job this was connected to the gross wrong doings & sexual harassment in the Military. There was way too much discrimination, threats and employment wrong doings & abuse at Warren Correctional Institute. There was way too much abuse to inmates & unlawful actions from other correctional officers at Warren Correctional Institute. I graduated in Orient Ohio and was assigned to Warren Correctional Institute in Lebanon Ohio the director over the South Western portion of correctional facilities was a black male. This was during the years 1999 & 2000. He made a threat to see to that I wasn’t going to be able to keep my job. When I graduated he wasn’t supposed to have known me, however he came straight towards me with my instructor there threatening me and said stuff that only happened in the Military. My instructor apologized to me. During the year that I worked at Warren Correctional Facility there were way too many injustices. I don't do threats either. The one thing I didn’t like was when we started to come on duty on shift everyone had to hug each other rubbing on each other in a sexual manner. I didn’t want to be touched by anybody. Even the warden had to go get hugs and when he came to me he put his hands on me & I would just cringe. I didn’t understand this and it made me feel uncomfortable. I wanted to keep on point and didn’t want a bunch of male correctional officers touching me or harassing me. I asked for this to stop, well this was the first mistreatment of retaliation I started to receive they started to harass me. Another sickening thing was a married couple both outside of the prison and inside of the prison would swap spit standing there kissing on each other for a long time and slobbering for more than two to three minutes. I complained about his I didn’t want to see it so they started to get mad and kept on harassing me, only some of them. I was getting good evaluation reports though throughout the year. I complained about some officers were trying to escalate a fight to blame inmates for attacking a correctional officers. It was clearly abuse. Another incident two correctional officers beat an inmate until he bleed and blacked out, while he was completely tied up in the psychic ward on a gurney. They made threats about me saying anything what one of the officers did they got his fiancée to come into the prison to do a training class. The officer that was part of the beatings took me to this class. I his fiancée and the officer were the only ones in the class at first. The class was on Serpico. This was a threat to me there was no reason for anyone to have this training. I told them they need to stop doing shit in front of me or I will tell. Most of the women that worked in Warren Correctional Facility were either married to another male correctional officer, was either having sex with a correctional officer or she had a daddy that was within the state of Ohio protecting her job. Any single woman correctional officer at Warren Correctional Institute at this time that was not owned by another male correctional officer as these abusive certain people would say will be oust, will be fired and sabotaged. One Asian woman her dad was protecting her job she would constantly make comments about my weight, “Oh look she is pregnant.” I was just overweight like most of the men & women were in there and I was ugly. But because she was protected she got to say or do as she pleased. They kept on threatening me. Finally towards the end of my year a black officer that was claiming to be connected to a large group and connected & protected by rock church started to sexually harass me. I told him I didn’t like to date the people I worked with so to alleviate any problems and I am not attacked to black men, because they violent crimes and use their race to get off. I have witnessed and experienced too much wrong doings. I asked him to leave me alone and let me work, but he would not. He took this hateful attitude that he was going to get back at me for not going out with him. He tried to get me set up or sabotaged. He was not being too successful so he got his friend our shift supervisor to give him temporary lieutenant bars to sabotage my job to continue to harass me and cause harm. He became so anger that he tried to have me killed in the prison. The warden at that time was supposed to have an open door, but I was blocked for seeing him. I was blocked filing report to the state cop. They would not allow me to take copies of reports out the commander forced me to give the copies to him. After this black correctional officer got away with sexually harassing me he went back to regular officer. There was so much corruption in the facility I tried to get an attorney on the outside but they would not take the case. I tried to file reports with police officers, but they claim that they couldn’t take the report. I went to the judge and he said why didn’t you report it to the state officer that is assigned to the prison that takes these reports? I told him I tried, but was blocked. I was fired the Warden couldn’t even look me in the eye when he was doing this. Here I was targeted at the beginning to sabotage my job, he admitted things that only happened in the service, they criminally threatened me, they committed violent abuse and criminal wrongdoings on other inmates, they blackmailed another officer and female officer to help them make up slandering things that was about me on the outside so they could try to use this, mocking me and saying to me that, “Being gay is unbecoming of an officer.” They even criminal got a friend to come and take my van my transportation to get to work so I would be late. I got my van back I called the police. They said they made a mistake and they were not held accountable. It caused me to be 10 minutes late. I told the black officer that was grossly & aggressively sexually harassing me & threatening me that tried to kill me in the prison that I was gay so please leave me alone. FO!!! I went to three different attorneys in Ohio and they all didn’t want to take the case, said that there was too much corruption that I wouldn’t win. The Warden left after he fired me and the black male director of the south western part of Ohio that was over Warren Correctional Institute at that time hired a black female for the next Warden. I needed this job, but because I stood up to corruption I was hurt, threatened and lost my job. If I could have received legal help for wrongdoings in employment, EEOC wrong doings to correct what they did, protect my rights and charge the black officer that tried to get me killed it would have been different. The mal treatment towards women and the sexual harassment must be corrected. We should never have to be black or forced to be with anyone just to keep a job. JUSTICE. Don't just ask them allow me to have proper legal help to protect my rights so the truth will be brought in court and justice will be held. You should have not done what you did all of you that is responsible. I was a good officer; I worked hard and was always willing to work overtime. I just didn’t put up with any shenanigans, criminal wrongdoings and sexual harassment. I want correction, justice and restitution. I will keep painting the skies.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Frank - Thanks. It definitely captures the "awww shucks" feeling that employees feel when first contacted. I appreciate your stopping by!

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Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

that first photo is priceless Flourish :)

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Vinaya - Thanks for reading and commenting. When people have everything invested in their careers, they overwork themselves often to the point of burnout to provide for their families and suddenly they find themselves accused of wrongdoing, it can be mind-blowingly stressful. There is so much on the line. I'm glad you have a different perspective or framework for dealing with accusations. I'm sure it helps you get through.

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Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal

I never have had regular job, however, I have been accused many times. In the beginning I tried to justify myself, however, these days I don't give justifications.

Thanks for the tips.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Benjamin - Thanks for reading and commenting. Yes, rude behavior towards the investigator definitely makes one question just how bad it probably gets when no one in an official capacity is around.

Benjamin Chege 3 years ago

Hi FlourishAnyway, nice and comprehensive presentation. Voted up, useful and beautiful. I agree with you that being calm, establishing a good rapport with the investigator and pooling an array of evidence that works for you is what you need when you're facing problems at work. You know when you show anger and hatred toward the investigator, they are inclined to think you are guilty of the crime you are accused of due to the bad attitude. As they say, attitude is everything. No one gets farther than they can see with a bad attitude. Thanks for the well presented and informative hub.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Ky Cardinal - Your observation is on-target. Some of the most convincing evidence I've seen is personally generated. For example, emails sent to oneself (for a time/date stamp), emails to an individuals confirming details of a conversation or an event, a personal work notebook that memorializes the details, etc. Thanks for reading and adding to the conversation.

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Ky Cardinal 3 years ago from Louisville, Ky

This can happen to anyone. I have learned over the years to step back, breath, and give yourself thinking time once you learn what was said about you or your work. Once at work I had someone say something, and when I went back to check my records it wasn't the case at all. I was glad I had another team member who kept the same records. It is easy to say something is true especially if it has to do with the number of times something has been or hasn't been done. Keep good personal notes. I know it sounds like a lot of work when the days are full, but maybe a diary written the last few minutes of the day would help refresh events.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Suzie - Thank you for reading, commenting and sharing. Your experiences are precisely why I wrote this piece. I'm sorry for your unfortunate experience.

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Suzie HQ 3 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

Hi FlourishAnyway,

What a thorough run down on this difficult subject. I have been involved in bringing theft to the attention of my Area manager and then HR and it was not a pleasant experience to find out a member of my team was stealing. On another occasion I was brought up on a disciplinary action totally out of order which ultimately resulted in my resignation months later after I had been cleared. Unsettling, stressful and a whole heap more!

A useful checklist which is written from experience, great job! UP, useful, interesting, shared!

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Barry - I'm sorry for your bad experience. I hope the future holds much brighter things for you. Thank you for reading and commenting.

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barryrutherford 3 years ago from Queensland Australia

Great hub the information would have been very useful for me in the past. And would have probably saved my career!

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Nell - Thanks for the compliments. People often misperceive HR as the fun-and-games place to work in the company, but it's surely not typically the case. I hope the article is helpful to the right people at the right time. I appreciate your reading and sharing.

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Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

I used to work in HR for a while, luckily I was just helping out and didn't need to see the person in question so this is really great, and going to be very useful for someone in this position! voted up all the way and shared! nell

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

LKMore01 - Thank you for reading. I hope it helps many people get through what is often a very tough time.

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LKMore01 3 years ago

Outstanding article. Obviously, this is a topic that you are passionate and intensely knowledgeable. It will be a resource for many employees and employers.

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bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Flourish, that's exactly why I quit my job a year ago!

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

bravewarrior - I appreciate the compliments on the hub. Isn't it the most awesome thing to only have to answer to yourself and not worry about all the corporate politics, the personalities, the changing winds, and the egos?

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Elizabeth - Thanks for reading and commenting. Too many people try to outsmart investigators by telling a fib but usually it's pretty obvious. Then, there's often the dreaded "callback." Either HR calls the PCA back to really grill them good (as opposed to just interview) or the PCA calls the investigator back to admit they "misstated," "misunderstood the question," etc. Best to just get it right the first time. I appreciate your reading!

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bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Flourish, you did a great job of this hub. I've never faced and HR investigation and glad of it. Now, I don't have to worry about it because I answer only to myself.

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epbooks 3 years ago from Las Vegas, NV

Fantastic and useful hub on the subject. I've never been called into HR, but I do agree, honesty is the best policy. If you're guilty of wrong doing, I always find it's best to own up to it. It's a lot easier for everyone involved!

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

DDE - Thank you for reading and commenting on the hub. Thankfully, many people do not experience being accused of wrongdoing, however you never know when the finger might point to you even when you've done nothing wrong and are minding your own business. I'm glad this has been interesting and potentially helpful.

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DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Accused of Wrongdoing At Work? What To Do interesting and a well informed hub on such a topic, you have said it all here. I din't have experience any of it but those who do must definitely feel frustrated. Helpful points and worth reading

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Faith - Thank you for reading and commenting. It is a difficult thing to be involved in, especially when your livelihood -- what pays for your mortgage, your kids' futures, your next meal even -- depends on the outcome of the case. Hopefully it helps people. I always appreciate your comments.

Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Really great hub here full of insight and useful tips! Yes, the hardest thing to do is remain calm and keep your cool, especially when you are being accused of something that is not true. However, as you have pointed out, it is most important.

I hope many read this article to help them in any future endeavors that may or may not arise.

Up and more and sharing

Have a great weekend!

Hugs, Faith Reaper

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

JayeWisdom - Thank you so much for these kind words. I absolutely agree with you regarding the fact that managers and top executives -- unfortunately, even those in HR -- sometimes perceive themselves as "bulletproof" when it comes to company policies. Sometimes the complaint that initially sounded the most ridiculous actually has teeth when you look at it objectively. So many times I even had to talk my boss (a corporate attorney) out of jumping to a conclusion before I even investigated a claim. He was going into management mode, corporate defense mode. Thanks for reading, comment, voting.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

WhiteMuse - Thanks for reading and commenting. Often the key is not to lose your cool, be reasonable and easy to follow and have evidence to support your perspective. It's never a good position to be in -- as a complainant or person complained about.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Crafty - I wish I had been there to make things more tolerable. At times, I dealt with entire workgroups who complained about their bad manager. Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a good weekend.

JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

This is an excellent article, and I state that with a background of 22 years in senior HR management with one international company (years which included many such investigations), not counting my experience in other companies prior to that one.

I loved HR management, but there are facets of the job which I don't miss since retirement. However, I stay apprised of employment law and am often the first person anyone who knows me (or knows someone who knows me) calls if they have an employment-related question or problem, and I'm happy to oblige with advice.

Ironically, I spent much of today helping a friend's daughter with an appropriate and, one hopes, successful letter to her corporate HR department regarding misconduct toward her by a manager. While large companies invest in management training to avoid such incidents, they do still happen occasionally. Some managers--even top execs (similar to some politicians)-- appear to believe company policies don't apply to them. I encountered a few of those during my career, so I keep an open mind when someone says he or she was "railroaded on a trumped-up charge." It happens.

Voted Up, Useful and Interesting


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Moonlake - Thank you for reading and commenting. I hope people use the information I present here in the spirit I intended it to be used (and take their lumps if they're guilty).

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Bill - Thanks so much. If there's one thing I learned early on it's to withhold judgment. Not everyone who is accused of wrongdoing is guilty of it, but it can sure wreak havoc on a person's self-esteem, career, work group, and relationships with family members. I appreciate your reading, commenting and sharing.

bdegiulio profile image

bdegiulio 3 years ago from Massachusetts

Hi FA. Great advice and clearly coming from an expert in the field. I work in a large company and this stuff goes on all the time, thankfully not with me personally. You covered this topic from tip to tail and presented it in a great format. Congratulations on an excellent job. Voted up, shared, and pinned (love that opening photo). Have a great weekend.

WhiteMuse profile image

WhiteMuse 3 years ago from San Francisco

I know it is bad to be accused of something at work involving disgruntled employees. It is difficult to win it. Hopefully the person sees through it. I know they have before known it was made up. It depends.

CraftytotheCore profile image

CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

I wish there was one of you when I was working in corporate America. Unfortunately, the employees were left to fend for themselves at times.

When a problem did arise, we were encouraged to go to the person we had a problem with! It never solved anything, just made for more conflict!

moonlake profile image

moonlake 3 years ago from America

Very interesting hub that I think will help lots of people. Voted up and shared.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Heidi - Thanks for reading, commenting and voting. Even the toughest of folks can come unglued during workplace investigations. Being blamed by a boss, colleague, client, or other person for workplace misbehavior is extremely unsettling whether you're guilty or not. I've seen more than one grown man and a lot of ladies reduced to tears by the stress of it all.

heidithorne profile image

heidithorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

Wow, what a thorough post on the subject! It's no fun to be accused of anything by a coworker, superior or HR. The tips you offer are great for helping to keep a cool head through the process. It's so easy to be so emotionally invested that it just gets worse and worse. Voted up, useful and interesting!

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