Accused of Wrongdoing at Work: What to Do

Updated on December 16, 2017
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FlourishAnyway is an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate human resources and consulting.

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

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

What To Do When An HR Investigator Calls

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

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

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

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

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

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

Present Your Best Self

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

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

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

Dude, Just Ease Up

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

Stay Calm

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

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

It is normal to have these feelings.

Uh, Oh! What Have I Done Now?

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

Reader Poll

HR Investigators are best described as

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

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

Before You Vent To The Investigator

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

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

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

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

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

Just Chill

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

For example, you can express that you are:

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

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

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

What Rights Do You Have?

Employment At-Will

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

They Can Do That?

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

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

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

Relax A Little (But Not This Much)

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

The Bottom Line On At-Will Employment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reader Experience Poll

Have you ever been accused of wrongdoing in the workplace?

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What To Tell the Investigator

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

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

Above all, be professional and courteous.

You Say I've Done What? Seriously?

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

Humanize Yourself As the Person Complained About (PCA)

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

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

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

Put Your Best Foot Forward With the Investigator

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

Establish A Personal Connection With the Investigator

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

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

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

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

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

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

If You Think All Complaints Have Merit, Think Again

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

Some of the more vivid examples of unsubstantiated complaints included:

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

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

Don't Treat the Investigator As Your Opponent

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

Gather Information

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

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

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

It's No Fun Being Under the Microscope

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

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

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

Reader Perspective

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

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Help Resolve Your Complaint

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

Make the Investigator's Job Easy

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

Communicate Clearly

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

Establish Your Credibility

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

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

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

Workplace Conflicts Are Headaches Indeed

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

Address Motive

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

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

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

Provide the Names of Corroborating Witnesses

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

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

Offer Supporting Evidence

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

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

Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

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

Watch Red Flag Behavior

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

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

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

Exhibiting these behaviors won't further your cause.

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

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

If You're Guilty

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

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

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

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

A Stressful Experience, But It Will Be Over Soon

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

Summary

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

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

Good luck!

Notes

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

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

Questions & Answers

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

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

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

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

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

  • I have been falsely accused of racism, and I have found out the complainants have been telling people in their department that they went to HR and filed a complaint that I called them Latino. I found out about the complaint from a friend in the department the complainants work in. I never called them anything and have no idea what race they are. What are my rights if I am found not guilty?

    If you've never called your coworkers any names or treated them differently based on race/ethnicity as they allege, then you should be fine. Besides, what's wrong with the word "Latino?" It's not a pejorative term at all, so I'm thinking there's a lot more to the story or they're being oversensitive.

    Secondly, workplace investigators don't find employees "guilty" or "not guilty" because it's not a court of law. Rather, they assess whether an allegation has merit -- that is, whether an allegation is substantiated or unsubstantiated.

    If you feel like you've been ganged up on or bullied by multiple people then it's important to bring that up to the investigator during the investigation. Provide any other examples of ways your coworkers have ganged up on you (e.g., excluded you from the group, refused to work with you or sabotaged your work, started rumors about you). You can file a counter complaint, if appropriate.

    Regardless, you'll all need to continue to work productively afterwards so keep that in mind. No of you is permitted to retaliate against anyone else for filing a claim or participating in an investigation. From what you present, it seems to be more of an issue of not getting along rather than racism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • I was wrongfully accused of a workplace complaint, but HR never bothered to meet with me or send an investigator to speak to me. What should I do?

    If HR or management initially contacted you to inform you that a workplace complaint was lodged against you, it's reasonable to get back with them to ask about the status of the investigation.

    However, if you heard about the complaint through the rumor mill, you may not have correct information about there even being an investigation. If you heard about it via coworkers, for example, you may not accurately know IF there's an investigation, what precisely is alleged, or who is complained against. You can, therefore, choose to ask your boss if that is the case.

  • When cleared of an investigation at work, do I have the right to ask for a report? What if I was never interviewed? Does my employer have to put info into writing regarding the suspension?

    If an investigation results in you being suspended from work, a smart employer would typically issue a form for the employee personnel file that documents this fact. The paper or electronic form would be signed by the employee, supervisor, department manager, and HR representative to verify mutual understanding of the discipline. The Company may need to refer to it in progressive discipline or in an unemployment hearing should the employee's behavior not improve.

    There may or may not be an overall case report. It depends on the employer's practices. You can ask whether your company follows this practice and request a copy, but you'll probably be told that Company documents are HR confidential and you don't have access to them. (Some states may let you see these, however.) Even if you do not have a report, when a case is closed, and it has been unsubstantiated you may want to request a brief email from the investigator saying that. Just ask whether s/he can send you a short email stating that the case has been closed and the matter is unsubstantiated. At least that documentation will make you rest easier. Managers change, HR reps change, and at least you'll have this to prove the result in case it's ever an issue.

    Regarding your never being interviewed, typically a person complained about IS interviewed so s/he can present their side, but in rare circumstances, the allegations do not warrant an interview. For example, video or records clearly shows that the claim is unfounded.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      koushik 

      4 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • profile image

      help! 

      4 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      bonsai2003 

      5 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      bonsai2003 

      5 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      ealex 

      5 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

      Mah29001 - Wishing you the best!

    • profile image

      Mah29001 

      5 months ago

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      5 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Mah29001 

      5 months ago

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

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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

    • profile image

      YoungandScared 

      6 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Omri00 

      6 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

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

    • Readmikenow profile image

      Readmikenow 

      6 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Omri00 

      6 months ago

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

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

      Unique Soul - I wish you all the best.

    • profile image

      UniqueSoul 

      6 months ago

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

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

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

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

      I appreciate you and your assistance!

      Uniquesoul

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      1) simply wait to have the company take action

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

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

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

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

    • profile image

      UniqueSoul 

      7 months ago

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

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

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      walshs00 

      7 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      CarahFBM 

      7 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      7 months ago from USA

      wronglyaccused - Thanks for your comment.

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      7 months ago

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      8 months ago from USA

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

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

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

    • profile image

      Marty Voelker 

      8 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      9 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      9 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      9 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      9 months ago

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

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      9 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      9 months ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Common Sense 

      10 months ago

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

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

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

    • profile image

      wronglyaccused 

      10 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      randomguy 

      10 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Troubledemployee 

      10 months ago

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Thank you!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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

    • profile image

      Kate 

      10 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      10 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      troubled employee 

      10 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Marchelle Lynn 

      11 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Marjan 

      11 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      11 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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

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

    • profile image

      Troubledemployee 

      11 months ago

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

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

      I am scared confused and worried!

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      cupcakebug 

      12 months ago

      Hello

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

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

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

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      cloud 

      12 months ago

      The manager have a talk with me.

      I got complaints, said that I am bossy.

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

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

      He said is a *perception*

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Dawn 

      12 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

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

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

    • profile image

      Dawn 

      12 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      12 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Greg Kew 

      12 months ago

      Dear FlourishAnyway,

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Schone 

      13 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Schone 

      13 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      13 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Schone 

      13 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      14 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Trinity 

      14 months ago

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

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

      Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      14 months ago from USA

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

    • profile image

      Allyson 

      14 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

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

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

    • profile image

      Faf35 

      15 months ago

      Thank you so much for your reply. My main concern is how to reply to HR about the "false" claim that someone filed in against me, because although it doesn't effect my performance, it effect my well being.

      Most of the steps you have mentioned below were followed from the start. I believe that the issue is, that the manager of this group, doesn't welcome my role. His opposition to my role, and therefore to me, was exhibited, and after- followed suit by his group. I believe that this manager filed the complain. Now, after we went live and it's easier to see the results of the project, the team and manager see the benefits of my role and me.

      HR did not discussed or asked me about the complaint, but rather, just reprimanded me and notified me that the next complaint will cause my termination.

      It is too hard for me to go to work each day while such a warning for any misstep was put forward, when I didn't do anything to warn such a cause for firing.

      My questions are:

      - Shouldn't HR ask for my input about the complaint, and share with me details without names, before giving me a warning?

      - How can I respond to HR on this matter, to reopen the complaint, and investigate with both sides?

      - Is there a way that HR will clean my file from this incident?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      Faf35 - Based on what you tell me, you're not accused of stealing, harassing, defrauding, or other egregious corporate misdeeds but rather a teamwork issue or leadership style issue. This is not at all uncommon, although it's highly stressful to be caught in the middle. I'm sorry you've been losing sleep over it. It sounds like HR overreacted rather than coached you. Rather than fight that point out with them, why not take another approach? I'll outline below.

      I take it you have a project-driven job in which you are leading a technology change, transforming a manual process into an automatic one. It doesn't sound like the company helped out much by explaining project goals and rationale to the people most directly affected by this change (the workers involved). Rather, the project was probably dumped in your lap, and it was assumed that you'd take care of the communication. Communication is an essential part of project management.

      People are notoriously resistant to change, and they feel threatened by it. It's normal. They wonder whether their experience, expertise, and opinions will be valued and whether they will lose their jobs because of automation. They may sometimes fear acquiring new skills. You are the messenger of change and thus a convenient scapegoat for their frustrations.

      I also suspect you're a task-oriented person (concerned most about delivering on time, on budget). You've had success in the past getting the task done. Their complaints, however, center around feelings and being heard. To be more successful, take a step back. Clarify (and bullet point in writing) the overall goals and benefits of the new system by talking with management then conveying to the people affected. At other locations, it seems that this was already done. Have meetings in which you communicate goals and benefits, a path forward, a timeline, help needed from them, etc. Ask your manager for help in determining whether upper level management or others should be there. Tell the team that there may have been some misunderstandings and you want to do a reset so the team can move forward more collaboratively. Acknowledge employees' expertise, contributions, and why they are needed.

      I assume that during this transformation process you'll be asking for employees' help in various ways and presenting information, too. Focus on techniques for asking questions and then actively listening. (Active listening is a skill.) Consider, for example, the book "Crucial Conversations Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High" by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan & Switzler. Practice active listening liberally in your personal and business life. People often feel unheard and misunderstood.

      Right now, because of the communication gap, it's almost like you are speaking one language (getting the task done), and employees are speaking another (focusing on feelings of frustration, anger, and then taking it out on you). Help bridge that divide and you'll earn both their respect and cooperation. Make sure your manager knows the steps that you are taking along the way. Apparently, your reputation is positive, and he wants to support you. If he has your back, I suspect the chances of getting fired will be slim. Good luck.

    • profile image

      Faf35 

      15 months ago

      Hi, someone complained about me to HR, and I only knew about it when HR scheduled a meeting with me for the next day, to tell me that if it will happen again, I will lose my job! The HR meeting was scheduled a day before my manager left for 2 weeks off (it happened about a month ago).

      I contacted my manager after I received the meeting invitation from HR, and he said he can't share details and that he just heard about it, and that it is about being aggressive and not listening, and that we have discussed about it a month ago (more details below).

      He suggested me to say, during the HR call, that I will work on it.

      The next day during the HR call, no additional info shared with me, and the HR started the call, and shortly after, asked my manager to continue the discussion. Then, I was told by my manager that the complain was about me being aggressive and not listening, and that if it will happen again, I will lose my job!

      It is important to add that I am working with a new group that were never educated from higher management about a new automation project that the business trying to achieve. In addition, they never worked with my role (new after reorganization). For years they are working with a manual process.

      About a month before the HR meeting, there was a meeting that I have conducted before a client call, were the team wanted to suggest to the client options that won't be optional with the automation process- this call was hard and full of frustration from the team side and myself. The team felt that I am not listening to what they know from their experience, and I felt that they are not open to listen to new processes.

      Immediately after that call , I have asked (again) from the higher management of that group, to help me by communicating to them about automation (even if via an email). It was never done, but instead - in the next meeting she had with my manager, she had mentioned to him that I should improve my listening skills (not as a complain as my manager described it to me). That's why on the HR call, my manager mentioned that we spoke about it a month ago- about the listening.

      I want to add that this is the first time I have ever heard from HR, and I work for this company for more then 3 years. I did contact HR more then 2.5 years ago, to complain about someone that screamed on me, but it was me complaining about someone else (that had 5 older complains from other people), and not someone complaining about me (today this guy and I work well together).

      During the HR call I mentioned that I am surprised about this complain to HR, and I also said that I will work on it (as my manager suggested me to say). I did mention that I am introducing a new process to a team that work manually for years, that never worked with someone like in my position, and that higher management never communicated with that facility the new automation goals (like it was communicated to other facility that I worked with, with no issues). I did mention on the HR call that I have asked for the Higher Management help several times, but never got it.

      When my manager came back from vacation he started investigating with people that I used to work with a lot, and he told me he heard very good feedback about me, and that he thinks that it was a snowball.

      I am not sleeping for the past 4+ weeks. Never replied to the HR email that was sent after the HR call. I believe that this complain was a false complain, and that I didn't do something that should take me in front of HR, and defiantly not something that will make HR telling me that I might lose my job.

      How should I proceed?

      Can HR do such a thing and come to conclusion without even speaking with me and hearing what I have to say? Can they give me a last chance if they never discussed with me before?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      Rob - Let me preface my answer my saying you should consider all career actions carefully and seek legal counsel as needed. My hunch from a distance is that there is much more to the story than you know, whether it's the founding partner's history of misconduct, an affair gone wrong, or whatever.

      You mention that her only "true escalation about sexual misconduct" was about the founding partner. Hopefully you reported everything she alleged, regardless of whether you thought it was true or not. Wild allegations that a manager assumes to be patently false also need to be reported for investigation. Always document your communication of allegations to HR.

      With all of that said, however, if you didn't do what was alleged, why take the heat? If it wasn't actually investigated, you have have the obligation to say so. Your organization should have a process in place for investigating the senior most executives, and it shouldn't be conducted by an internal HR representative of any level or any other individual who reports to the founding partner. An outside attorney who specializes in HR investigations, for example, is a good bet.

      At the time you are presented the discipline, you do have the option of refusing to sign the disciplinary notice or signing with a notation that indicates, "I disagree with both the investigation process and outcome. See attached rebuttal document." (I'd sign underneath that statement.) Be succinct and nonemotional in your rebuttal. Offer specific facts and to back up your position. A one-pager is perfect.

      If you choose this approach, mention in the rebuttal header that it is an attachment to the disciplinary memo and, of course, sign/date it. Email it so it's date-stamped.

      Keep in mind that in future if an incident arises, particularly with this type of complaint or this person, on paper you have acknowledged your role in the incident and promised to make changes. Two incidents is the beginning of a pattern. Be cautioned, too, about retaliation or the perception of it.

      Of course, taking this action will raise HR's dander, especially after you have signed the disciplinary document as is. Do what you feel is wise given the circumstances. I have personally refused to sign even excellent performance evaluations because they had some misinformation in them. Good luck with your situation.

    • profile image

      Rob 

      15 months ago

      I was falsely accused of allowing co workers to use sexual and homophobic language in the workplace as well as not taking the complaint seriously. HR showed up with verbal and written warning for myself and management team to sign without any investigation into the matter and without hearing anyone on the teams opinion. The complaint was lodged by a team member who had already been given s written warning herself before she raged quit. Additionally her only true escalation about sexual misconduct was reported to me about our founding partner who after I escalated through the proper channels of course nothing was done. But my warning remains on file for not taking her complaint seriously.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      ItsMe - First, if you're in a union environment, check your contract and talk to your union steward. If you're not unionized, then review your school district's administrative personnel policies that specify allegations of employee misconduct and how grievances/complaints are handled. Specifically look for any rule regarding notifying persons complained against of the allegations within 48 hours. I'm wondering where you might have gotten that very specific "requirement," so you want to find that in writing. It's not necessarily a general standard practice.

      Second, from the information you provide here, I'm not sure how a thorough investigation was done, but it seemed to have worked in your favor right now. You do need to consider that if this was just a bunch of lies, then what could possibly have motivated someone to do this against you? Was it a terrible misunderstanding or a complaint made in bad faith? Keep a detailed, written record at home of any maltreatment or conflicts and attempt to resolve them proactively and professionally, using administrator help, if needed. Hopefully, this complaint is a one-off situation. Be aware of not retaliating against the suspected complainant(s) no matter how you feel about them. That could cause a legitimate issue.

      Lastly, the timing is terrible for you personally with the start of school being in a few days. Why not seek confidential counseling to deal with this issue? Otherwise, know that the issue has been unsubstantiated and that this is YOUR victory. Don't let the haters win.

    • profile image

      ItsMe 

      15 months ago

      I was put out on administrative leave in May. I work in a school environment. I had no idea as to why or what I did. I went all summer not knowing. Last Friday Aug 25, I had a meeting with HR. HR had no idea that I wasn't informed of my accusations, nor did I ever get to speak my side of the story until Aug 25. At this meeting, HR told me of my accusations and said that they were grounds for termination. I stated that they were all false. They were all vicious vindictive lies, stated by another employee or employees. Within 5 minutes, I was told they were grounds for termination, then he said that he was told that I was a good person, and that I could go back to work on Monday... What I would like to know is doesn't HR have to notify you of the allegations that were placed within 48 hours. Also how can they expect me to go back to work in the same situation that made this vicious claim against me in just three days, with no time to digest it all. I am completely stressed out, even more so now. I am frightened to have to return to this hostile environment and no longer trust these people.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      15 months ago from USA

      Oh, Diana, this is such a difficult topic not only for people in the workplace but also personally, particularly when they haven't been previously exposed to trans people. Unfortunately, both you and they seem to be caught in the middle of a difficult conflict.

      You need to be honest with the HR attorney and describe your utter confusion about the issue and that your intent was absolutely not to offend but to merely understand.

      If you do have attitudes that are anti-gay or anti-trans, etc. I suggest that you take a look at your company's Equal Employment Opportunity Policy and Anti-Harassment Policy. Is it possible that pre-existing personal biases may be leaking out in your treatment of your coworker? Depending on the specifics of the allegation, the lawyer will probably review the contents of these policies with you and ask you questions based on them to ascertain whether your behavior violated them.

      You seem to be very curious and apparently have never encountered this situation previously. Besides, they did say they were open to personal questions. (I would wonder this: were there parameters or some kind of HR guidance or workplace education put in place regarding their gender, how to maintain a respectful and legal working environment, etc.?) Even if there was no such HR guidance/education in place, this is absolutely not an excuse to insult someone once you know a given behavior or name upsets them. Hopefully, you did not continue to engage in any behavior such as that (like calling them "her" after being told the preferred pronoun -- or ever calling them "it").

      Wishing you the best in this difficult circumstance. Let us know what happens.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      Joe PT - Glad it was helpful. I can understand that your colleagues and you would feel shaken and demoralized. I hope HR does the right thing and is decisive. Regardless, be careful of both this new employee and the new director who brought her on. They are not people of integrity or honor. Whatever company they come from, more are sure to try to filter in if your employer doesn't do the right thing.

      People hire those who are like themselves.

    • profile image

      JoePT 

      16 months ago

      Many thanks for your guidance! I shared your message with my colleagues before we responded to the allegations in writing, as we were asked to do. We took your recommendations to heart and gave very detailed, specific accounts of her behavior and comments, as well as our own, and refuted each false allegation with the facts. You were spot on with your speculation she may know someone in a power position... Turns out she is a close friend of a new director in another department, who happens to have the CEOs ear. It was this director, in fact, who made the report and filed the grievance second-hand. The candidate in question was given a copy of the alleged complaints to review, after which she granted HR permission to present them to us.

      Fingers crossed, right will overcome might in this case. My colleagues and I are more than a little shaken and demoralized. We're not sure what kind of person thinks it's smart to initiate such drama at the start of a new job, or how we can be expected to have a healthy working relationship with her. Nor are we feeling especially confident in our executive leaders for questioning our integrity based essentially on hearsay instead of their knowledge of us, or for inviting a person of obviously questionable character to join our otherwise highly functional, mutually supportive team.

      However it turns out, your advice was hugely helpful and much appreciated by all of us. Thank you!

      P.S. She really was a bit of a flake.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      16 months ago from USA

      JoePT - This woman must know someone in a position of power to feel so entitled (related to an executive? went to school with one? a good buddy or lover?). Although a liar in a director position is very dangerous, the allegations about rudeness and complaining about the company don't appear to be actionable against you, even if true -- they just look very bad. You should nevertheless be wary. Take the emotion out of it and state in vivid detail precisely what occurred during the encounter, including her unasked-for descriptions of her social life, disinterest in others, lack of asking any questions about the company, etc. -- whatever happened. (Apparently you all were not impressed enough with her rich social stories, and she was offended. What a flake.)

      Make a point to say that you were not asked your opinions about the candidate and how the dinner went. Point out your history with the company and lack of conflict and complaints, if this is true. You had to have been well regarded if they sent you out to dinner with a job candidate, right? If all three of you tell a consistent story, it'll raise a red flag in HR's mind.

      Bottom line: Directly refute lies, yes, AND give your contrasting narrative. Good luck.

    • profile image

      JoePT 

      16 months ago

      Thank you for this article! Here's my situation: A few weeks ago, my company flew in a job candidate to interview for a director-level position. She arrived the night before her scheduled interview, and the VP of HR asked three of my fellow senior leaders and I to take her to dinner. Much of the evening was spent listening to the candidate "sell" us on her many fine qualities and vivacious social life. At no time did she ask any of us what our roles were in the company or how those roles related to the position for which she was applying. None of the four of were overly impressed, but we were not asked by upper management to give our impression and we did not offer it. Ultimately, the candidate was hired.

      As soon as her employment contract was signed, she submitted to HR a long list of complaints against the four of us, saying we were rude to her during dinner, made no attempt to get to know her, and spent the entire evening complaining about our jobs, the company, and upper management. We were dumbfounded. The investigator gave us a written summary of specific statements the candidate attributed to us and asked us to respond in kind. Interestingly, each of the statements held a small element of truth, but were factually inaccurate, taken out of context and twisted to the negative. For example, she stated that one of our party had gone into detail about a 2014 company-wide pay cut, and the toll it had taken on employee morale. What my co-worker actually described was the atmosphere of teamwork and high level of employee loyalty and commitment we enjoy in our company and how everyone rallies in the face of diversity, noting as an example the positive attitude staff embodied, even when asked to take across the board pay cuts several years ago. While I agree this may not have been the most prudent example to use, it certainly was not stated in the context the candidate described.

      My question is, what's the best way for us to respond to her false allegations? Should we directly refute the statements given, or simply recount the evening's events and conversation as we recall it?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      HolyMoly86 - The egregious incident is over and the lie has been told so now you are in the painful waiting stage. You're a first time manager, and you'll learn a lot with this incident -- enough perhaps to last you a career. Even if you don't keep this job, learn from it and become a better person and employee. Depending on the context and what was precisely said by you and others, religious and political statements might be acceptable (i.e., unprofessional but not meriting discipline.) Remember that you're the manager always have responsibility for correcting other employees' bad acts as well as behaving well yourself.

      However, if you made perceived threats regarding others' job status (for example), were perceived to endorse drug use, discussed sexuality in a manner that offended someone present, this incident may have taken on a life of its own.

      In my own investigations of people who have made mistakes, I have always respected those who simply acknowledged an error in judgment and expressed an earnest willingness to learn from it if the company would bear with them. Sometimes the company cut them loose regardless. When someone contacted me again because they had conveniently "remembered" that what they told me was an accidental lie, I had not only a known liar on my hands but also someone who lacked good judgment on more than one occasion. I generally recommend that one tell his/her story once rather than amending the record. You're going to have to decide for yourself whether to stick with that lie and let the chips fall where they may or pull a mea culpa. Neither one is great, but I cannot advise you to lie. A good investigator probably is well aware that you lied.

      Everyone makes mistakes. Don't let this shame you forever. Learn from it.

    • profile image

      HolyMoly86 

      17 months ago

      I am a first time manager and am pretty sure I am the subject of a HR investigation.I may have committed a lie wherein I stated that I had not been told the specifics of the investigation by anyone, and I had, that morning. Outside of that the level of accusations against me was as follows; Discussing religion, politics, Naziism, sexuality, drug use, and suggesting that employees would need new jobs by August. I admitted to certain aspects ( passing mention of politics based off of TV screens and calling Donald Trump Trumplestiltskin), mentioning my Jewish faith and interest in a synagogue, showing a music video from the producers called "Springtime for Hitler", disparaging my boss ( calling him a liar and ahole), occaisionally cursing on the floor, and discussing rolling cigarettes. I also shared how I was uncomfortable in my work environment, actively trying to transfer to a different role, and that one employee had made me feel this way. I shared an email chain to that effect dating back as far as January that indicated my discomfort.. I've had an entire weekend to panic and spiral and am worried I may have not stated certain things that I did not remember at the time of the interview ( quite honestly). I am also now worried maybe that I did not come off too well at the interview as I realized I was the subject of the investigation when I was IN the interview. Should I reach back out, or realize that this will not make me any better in their eyes?

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      SS - Ok, thanks. Good luck to you.

    • profile image

      SS 

      17 months ago

      I have been accused of sexual harassment at work and I have plain text proof that this allegation is completely false

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      17 months ago from USA

      lostladee - This is very sad. I'd say all you can do is tell the truth. If you don't recall any incident, explain precisely that. In my experience, there is a big difference between simply swearing (e.g., dammit) and swearing at someone (e.g., "you are a damn ...."). One is general, the other may be considered targeted and abusive. Please look at the overall life picture. Yes, it's distressing, but this is just a job. It's not worth starving yourself or working yourself up into a lather such that you have health problems. Big internet hug to you, friend.

    • profile image

      lostladeee 

      17 months ago

      I'm in a bit of a 0redicament and feel I cannot defend myself. I do not recall the incident occurring what so ever. I have severe generalised anxiety and an eating disorder so generally stress can be very difficult for me. I have been accused of swearing on my lunch in the corridor near our lifts. Whilst I hold my hands up to past occasions before medication and one blip recently. This is the only time I am truly innocent. An accusation was made but I do not recall the incident. I have a history of my stress causing me to in occasion swear due to frustration. I did however step out and have had occur health referral. I don't know how I can defend myself here. I feel targeted and bullied. I truly on this occasion didn't do it but I have no idea how I can protect myself here. I cried my eyes out offered a lie detector test and requested they review cctv. They refused. Can anyone offer me any advice? Have not eaten because of this its triggered a release and I've only just got signed off from treatment. M terrified

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      18 months ago from USA

      blop - What puzzles me is why your other team members didn't back up your claims that the coworker was not doing his work. The business about using "I statements" is simply someone playing amateur psychologist. If HE didn't complete a task or HE didn't deliver on time/up to quality, then the clearest communication is not "I feel..." or "I ... " whatever. It's "Bob, you committed that you'd have blah blah done yesterday, and in order for our project to move forward we need your deliverable. It's late. When can we expect it?" Rely more on emailed understandings regarding deliverable expectations and deadlines to everyone (for consistency), check verbally for understanding, and when there's a performance issue, consider handing this delicate task of trying to get the work out of him over to his supervisor. That's what they get paid extra for.

      You seem to care a lot about your job, your reputation, and your work. Management is putting the emotional side of this employee's life over work performance, however. They want you to display empathy, so display it , but also document via email each time any of your project members is late, not up to quality, and it impacts your performance or that of the team. Use good Project Management tools and templates.

      Management should recommend to him (but not require) that he take advantage of the company's Employee Assistance Program (free counseling, outside of work). I hope the company has EAP. Unless he gets some counseling it's very possible that he will become a job performance issue because he seems to be bringing the difficult circumstances in his personal life to work. Don't make it personal so that YOU won't be blamed for the issues. Also be careful of pinning any labels on him that could be construed as mental illness. I feel badly for the guy's personal situation, but he's playing victim at work.

    • profile image

      blop 

      18 months ago

      thank you for this guide! unfortunately, i feel unsatisfied and belittled by the person reviewing my case. i had a problem with a coworker in which he refused (verbally, directly to me) to do his job. his excuses were numerous: 1) his father's death (which was three months prior and we had given him a week off at that time), 2) his father in law's current health status and related travels, and 3) that i had not been clear about expectations (even though the other two team members did what i asked without further clarification and i had reminded the team of what was expected several times for the past several months) and 4) that what i was asking for was unreasonable and unnecessary. when he refused, i took it up with our supervisor. supervisor contacted coworker to get him to do his job and that worked (mostly: i still had to spend hours cleaning up his work.)

      then last week i get a note from the chair of the department that he's complained about me creating a hostile work environment. is it a "hostile work environment" if you don't do your job and i need to do something about it? the chair tried to be neutral but she is not trained in mediation or conflict resolution. she felt i was being unfair to my coworker in not understanding the situation with his father's death and father-in-law's current health issues. i do not feel that this is reasonable. she also suggested several times that i learn to use "i statements". i realize that it's going to always sound more accusatory if i say "you didn't do your job" but what in god's name do i do if that's actually true? i feel like she gaslighted me.

      because i don't want to keep this nonsense conflict going, i agreed to write to the coworker to assure him that if we ever had to work together (we aren't now and won't be in the scheduled future) that i'd be happy to communicate openly if that ever did happen. that's how i honestly feel - i have no problem communicating with him about business. i do have a problem with him refusing to do his job.

    • FlourishAnyway profile imageAUTHOR

      FlourishAnyway 

      18 months ago from USA

      irene - Simply tell her the truth. If you didn't do it, you didn't do it. If she has this much on camera she probably has what was before and after. If she needs to press charges, fine. You may have to tell your story to the police.

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    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
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    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
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    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
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    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
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    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
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    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
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    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)