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Accused of Wrongdoing at Work: What to Do

Updated on June 11, 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 Assume You're the Target Of the Investigation

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

If It's Not A Convenient Time To Talk, Say So

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

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

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

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

Reader Experience Poll

Have you ever been accused of wrongdoing in the workplace?

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What To Tell the Investigator

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

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

Above all, be professional and courteous.

You Say I've Done What? Seriously?

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

Humanize Yourself As the Person Complained About (PCA)

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

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

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

Put Your Best Foot Forward With the Investigator

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

If You Think All Complaints Have Merit, Think Again

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

Some of the more vivid examples of unsubstantiated complaints included:

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

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

Establish A Personal Connection With the Investigator

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don't Treat the Investigator As Your Opponent

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

Gather Information

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

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

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

It's No Fun Being Under the Microscope

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

Reader Perspective

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

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

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

Help Resolve Your Complaint

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

Make the Investigator's Job Easy

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

Communicate Clearly

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

Establish Your Credibility

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

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

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

Workplace Conflicts Are Headaches Indeed

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

Address Motive

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

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

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

Provide the Names of Corroborating Witnesses

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

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

Offer Supporting Evidence

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

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

Don't Be Your Own Worst Enemy

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

Watch Red Flag Behavior

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

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

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

Exhibiting these behaviors won't further your cause.

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

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

If You're Guilty

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

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

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

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

A Stressful Experience, But It Will Be Over Soon

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

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/.

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 10 hours 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 10 hours ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 11 hours 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 hours 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 image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 6 days 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 6 days 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 image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA

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

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      Allyson 3 weeks 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 image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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 image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks 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 4 weeks 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?

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      FlourishAnyway 5 weeks 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.

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      Rob 5 weeks 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.

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      FlourishAnyway 6 weeks 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.

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      ItsMe 6 weeks 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.

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      FlourishAnyway 7 weeks 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.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 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.

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      JoePT 2 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.

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      FlourishAnyway 2 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.

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      JoePT 2 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?

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      FlourishAnyway 3 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.

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      HolyMoly86 3 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?

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      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      SS - Ok, thanks. Good luck to you.

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      SS 3 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 3 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.

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      lostladeee 3 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

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      FlourishAnyway 4 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.

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      blop 4 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.

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      FlourishAnyway 4 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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      FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA

      Dot8927 - Your health needs to be your first priority, so I’m sorry this has happened to you, especially now. Teenagers’ brains literally have not finished developing, and their sense of empathy can be particularly shallow. While you may not be the perfect manager (who is?), whether you deserve all this at this time in your life is another story altogether.

      I do wonder if this is a case of “piling on,” especially since they’re all in frequent contact electronically and seem to know one another. I hope the HR investigator will seriously consider that as well as the timing of the complaints. If I were the investigator, I’d construct a timeline of the dates of the complaints, the discharge of that employee, the rehire of the former employee, and your LOA and see if the timing shows anything.

      If you have a solid record of management achievement and service (awards, performance evaluations, years of service, no prior complaints) be sure to emphasize that to the investigator. If you can surmise who might be the ring leader and what is inspiring the group to make false complaints against you, that would also be helpful. (Consider the relationship between the rehire and the employee you discharged.) Don’t go asking questions, however. That could get you in additional trouble.

      As far as the content of the allegations, from what I can gather, there are two that potentially are most serious. Make sure you follow the law regarding wage and hour issues (overtime, breaks). It should be posted on your facility's compliance bulletin boards. Depending on what is in the complaint about discussing sex with a minor (which you said was untrue), that could turn south. To be extra safe, as a manager, don’t discuss sex, religion, or politics in the workplace with anyone. Another employee cannot eavesdrop on a private conversation that way.

      The other allegations (name calling, getting mad easily) seem to be management style issues. If you’ve never been complained about before and have a long record of service, vigorously defend yourself and let your record stand on its own. Tell them you don’t call people names, if this is the case. And don't back down. Best of luck to you.

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      irenemorin68@gnail.com 4 months ago

      I received a call from my manager saying that she has me on cámara taking an envelope with money on Friday after noon she says that it's very obvious that I was stealing it because I had a towel in my hand and that I put the towel on top of the envelope and that I looked all around to make sure nothing else was there, I do maintenance in all the offices in the building and yes maybe I did get the envelope but I didn't take the that she says was in there I tried telling her that I didn't have the money but she wants me to give it to her with in an hour or she'll press charges but I don't have the money I'm thinking maybe I through it in the trash but she doesn't believe me what can I do?

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      Dot8927 4 months ago

      I was told last week that I was under multiple allegations from multiple people about a multiple of things. New employees and old employees. I have never had an allegation before and this is confusing to me because I had been off work for six weeks on FMLA for a serious health condition. These allegations ran from the very serious to not so serious. All of the allegations are untrue some could have been miss interpreted. The employees who made the allegations all communicate in a messaging group. I know this because I was told when someone didn't turn up for work and I had to fire her. I had asked another employee if he had herd about it and he said yes he saw her response on the group chat, and he showed me what she said. These are mostly teenagers and first jobs for most of them. One of the allegations was telling people if they didn't get their work done they would have to punch out and work on their own time. Well that's nutty, I explained my policy of working late and overtime and luckily had a recent employee that had mentioned she had done that because she was getting pressure from the assistant manager. I told her she can't do that. It was nice to have that as an example of that policy I could give HR. Some of the other allegations totally thew me. A minor said that I was talking about sex and that made him feel uncomfortable. When being questioned I could only recall saying to an adult on the job that I knew my marriage wasn't going to work out because I hadn't had sex for three years. I would never say that, or have a conversation about that with a minor. The other allegations were that I called people stupid and was unfriendly and could get mad very quickly. In truth because of the stress of the interview and having had radiation on my brain I can't remember anymore of the allegations. I do remember that one of the accusers was a rehire and I hadn't worked a shift with her or I couldn't recall working with her since she returned. I did say on one occasion that I thought and employee was overthinking a task, and I was frustrated. That same employee seemed to take offense at any coaching I gave her. She often interrupted and said back in curt terms "I get it!". I even said to the individual that I was coaching her, not to make her feel bad but to maybe do things easier. None of my accusers said that I raised my voice when I was angry. Some of the allegations were from 5 months ago. I did not have the forethought to ask when all these allegations came in, but I think they must of all come in when I was gone, because I can't imagine HR not handling them in a best practice manor. At the end of the interview I was exhausted and overwhelmed, scared and sad. I shared that with HR and they said they have more investigation to be done. But over all I am having a difficult time keeping it together, I am back taking my panic medication for anxiety and along with this my direct manager told me that things have changed since I was gone and that there has to be a meeting with me my assistant manager, him and another manager. This happened the day I returned to the job. I asked what had changed but they would not give me details. I was again overwhelmed because I had literally just finished my radiation two days before and was not feeling 100%. I know you say not to think about it but every time I correct one of these employees for something thing they are not doing I feel like I'm being bullied by a crew of teenagers that have no idea of the consequences of these allegations. One major thing is that I know I need to document everything! I don't know what I expect from writing this, because I am doing everything you have said in your article, and it in fact has made me feel better, but this is scary. I have two kids a mortgage and an illness right now. Any other advice would be appreciated.

      Thank you Dot8927

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      FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

      kjn350 - Keep a couple of things in mind. First, it's not a "prosecution," as you're not in a court of law. Second, depending on the context of the case, the supervisor could actually be the key target of this investigation because you indicated he is on probation for a harassment situation (?). Third, you are expected to cooperate with the investigation, so if part of their process is to submit a written account of what happened, refusal to do so is obviously not cooperation. Fourth, with a written statement YOU control the level of detail you provide and the story you tell. A written statement is not necessarily a bad thing. Take a breath and draft the written account for yourself first. Think about who started the situation, whether this known harasser offended you, and how you'd do it differently. Then edit it heavily and keep it behavior based. You'll be questioned based on your written statement.

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      kjn350 5 months ago

      I was told today that I am under investigation for events that occurred at a training event. They have asked I write a letter explaining the details of what happened.

      Are they asking me to tattle on myself? How do I respond in my best interests? There was a verbal banter with another employee (a supervisor), minutes later the supervisor and I spoke away from the group and I thought we resolved the situation. The supervisor is on probation for a harassment situation at another location. This situation is nothing like the previous situation and I felt like we had come to agreement when we spoke privately. I understand I need to cooperate with the investigation but am I really expected to write my own prosecution?

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      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      Dorian204 - High five to you!

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      dorian204 6 months ago

      everything worked out

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      dorian204 6 months ago

      Of course! Your article is amazing!

      I will let you know the results tomorrow.

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      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      Dorian, I hope you are able to step through these questions in a logical manner just like you have done here in order to explain your actions as a rational decision unmotivated by malice. Keeping level-headed and fact-based in your description (even though I know you must be aghast emotionally at the charges) will help you present yourself clearly. Don't be afraid to take in typewritten notes or other evidence (printed screenshots of emails) and hand them a copy. Be strong and report the facts as they happened.

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      dorian204 6 months ago

      Hi,

      When I started as a buyer at the hospital, I was told I would have access to the warehouse, and if i were to pick out any items, I would need someone with me, and I did.

      This is my second time in 5 years picking anything out from the warehouse, the first time I had the supervisor help me, and this time I had a general porter who I dont really know help me.

      My desk and along with my 5 colleagues are full of supplies that need to be returned or that are expired. sensitive products like stents, catheters, balloons, cardiac defibs, the list goes on.

      If any overshipment item comes, we stop it from leaving the receiving dock, the thing is I already had one full case of needles sitting on my desk to be returned, and I wanted to investigate why we would order them from outside the hospital, when we could have ordered them from the basement.

      I would have never known I could go the warehouse unless it had happened before, couple of buyers have done it before.

      And yes I spoke with the receiver, because he noted that we carry many different sizes of needles in the warehouse and that I should go show my department how to order them and what type we have stock, there are no cameras in the warehouse.

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      dorian204 6 months ago

      Hi,

      When I started as a buyer at the hospital, I was told I would have access to the warehouse, and if i were to pick out any items, I would need someone with me, and I did.

      This is my second time in 5 years picking anything out from the warehouse, the first time I had the supervisor help me, and this time I had a general porter who I dont really know help me.

      My desk and along with my 5 colleagues are full of supplies that need to be returned or that are expired. sensitive products like stents, catheters, balloons, cardiac defibs, the list goes on.

      If any overshipment item comes, we stop it from leaving the receiving dock, the thing is I already had one full case of needles sitting on my desk to be returned, and I wanted to investigate why we would order them from outside the hospital, when we could have ordered them from the basement.

      I would have never known I could go the warehouse unless it had happened before, couple of buyers have done it before.

      And yes I spoke with the receiver, because he noted that we carry many different sizes of needles in the warehouse and that I should go show my department how to order them and what type we have stock, there are no cameras in the warehouse.

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      FlourishAnyway 6 months ago from USA

      Dorian - First, keep your head about you, and rely on your union in this matter. Hold them accountable for aggressively defending you. (Oh, believe me that it doesn't always happen!)

      Unfortuately, your innocent actions were misinterpretted in all this mess. There may be at least these issues: 1) suspected theft, 2) your nonstandard retrieval of a product that probably breaks hospital policy/protocol, and 3) the nonstandard storage of these items on your desk that might make them prone to alteration or theft.

      Needles are senstive items for obvious reasons, and I suspect that your employer has a chain of custody or tracking system for at least certain products (e.g., needles, meds). Turn to your professional training and company policies and ask yourself a few questions. Would the issue have been such a big deal if the items in question were hospital gowns or Post-It Notes rather than needles? What were you supposed to do according to company policy/protocol to correct an overshipment error? Were you adequately trained on this? Can you point to a good work record, other buyers who routinely took these actions, or other evidence to show that your behavior was not as nefarious as it was interpretted to be? Did you have conversations with others about the rationale for what you were doing? Were you captured on camera?

      I wish you the best in defending yourself.

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      Dorian 6 months ago

      This past Friday I was called into my directors office as he told me to go home, with pay, and come back on Tuesday morning and report to HR with my union rep, as there is an pending investigation.

      I was confused and taken back on why he would say this to me.

      I am a buyer at a hospital, I deal with hundreds of different types of supplies and equipment.

      Thursday morning I had a call from my receiving dock that we had an item come in, which was an over shipment, but while looking into this, I had found out that these type of items are kept in the warehouse; needles.

      Thursday before my shift ended, I did a quick search on my computer software to see what types of needles I have, and the amount of sizes we carry. I could see we carry dozens of them.

      So I took a bag, went down to the warehouse, asked for help to locate these items. I had placed the items in the bag, only 2 different sizes of needles, and headed back to my desk.

      I had emptied out my bag, and left the needles on my desk and would investigate the next morning if these needles would be suitable for my department.

      Friday morning I had called that department, and the nurse is away till Tuesday, shortly after I got called into my directors office, and he said there is an investigation pending.

      The person who helped me out, whom i found out later had reported suspicious activity, and also said it was odd i was in the warehouse at the time.

      I am the only one in my office (we have 6 in my office) to start at 8:15 am and leave at 4:30 pm.

      My gut is all twisted because someone who helped me pick these items out thought I was stealing.

      These items are still sitting on my desk.

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      FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

      surprisedatthis - Each workplace is different in how they handle some of the fine details of investigations. Some employers suspend employees with pay --either all key employees involved in an investigation or just the person complained about -- until the conclusion of the investigation. Other employers simply tell employees not to discuss the investigation, and they allow them to continue working as is unless the parties pose a potential hazard in working together (e.g., some kind of threatened or actual violence has taken place, stalking is alleged, etc.). Your employer should have a formal policy regarding involvuntary administrative leave that answers some or all of your questions regarding compensation. If it doesn't, then direct these questions to the HR investigator as a financial matter. Express concern but not anger even though you may be fuming. Ask the questions during your interview, too, if you don't get a response. You need to know how you'll meet your bills. Although it may be your instinct to strike back with a counterclaim of harassment and a request for them to be transferred, it is my experience that this type of behavior usually comes across as helping the complainant. It's used as a case in point of how vindictive the person complained about can be. That's just something to think about. You may also want to check the unemployment laws in your state and if the waiting period is short (a few days), consider filing as being laid off.

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      surprisedatthis 7 months ago

      I was contacted by HR and advised that I was accused of harassment, hostile workplace and retaliation. I was put on administrative leave for a week and a day without pay while the investigation is being conducted. I feel confident that I will be shown wrongly accused. Can I expect/"demand" to have my pay reimbursed? Can I expect to have the average of what my normal productivity be added to my records, so I will still qualify for incentive? Can I make a harassment claim against the person who caused me (and my patients) this disservice, stress, and embarrassment? Can I request that the person is transferred to another site?

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      MsIvy1612 7 months ago

      I was scheduled to work to cover another coworker's shift, and when I showed up, the person I was to cover came in after I did and asked me to leave. I called my scheduler to let them know of the mix up and all I was informed by the scheduler was that I will have to make up the hours. This has happened before and all that I was instructed to do was contact the scheduler. There's no handbook for this kind of mix up. I ask the person who came in if there was anything else I could do and the person just insisted it was handled and that I could go and enjoy the day off. 5 hours later, an operations manager called me and accused me of just leaving work and she yelled at me over the phone, which was on speaker as I was in front of my sister and mother at the time. I felt blindsided because I did the best I could and at the time of the scheduling error, no one mentioned that I needed to contact her. She told me that the manager on duty and the person I was to cover for both told me to call her, but that simply did not happen. I didn't try to argue about it and rescheduled to make up the hours. I need advice on what to do at this point because I feel like I may be used as a scapegoat for the situation and written up for a higher-up's error in scheduling me to cover another coworker. The day before she switched my schedule the morning of the work day, 1 hour and 30 minutes before I needed to go in to work, and had me going to a work site, where the drive was over an hour away, which made me 15 minutes late to arrive at that site, as I was scheduled for two weeks prior to that date to work at a location much closer. I feel that strange situations like this have been occurring every year, in the few weeks before our 6 month performance reviews. I feel I am being placed in trivial situations to get me written up at last minute so that she will refuse to give me a raise or promotions that are due to employees who meet expectations or exceed in performance per company policy. Please help?

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      FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

      desertzinnia - Defend yourself vigorously, professionally, and nonemotionally with the facts. Employ location, dates/times, witnesses (if any), people you told at the time, motivation for her to do what she did, etc. Don't back down and don't be intimidated. Hold your head high if you did nothing wrong. Ideally, you would have reported the incident when it happened so it didn't get turned around and blamed on you. Good luck.

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      desertzinnia 7 months ago

      I haven't been contacted by HR, but found out in my performance review that a coworker alleged I had thrown a phone at her and taken an object out of her hands. In fact, these were things she'd done to me, which is what I said in my written response. I also noted that she ignored my existence to the point I often had to stop to keep from walking into her. For example, if I open the door and she's coming my way, I have to hold the door for her or she'll walk right into me. This is the kind of workplace where both management and coworkers say and do things behind your back, so I have no idea what else has gone on in the months since. I realize that in the current climate in the US, employers can pretty much do anything they want, but is there anything else I can do to protect myself? Finding a new job isn't simple in my field, and I am self-supporting.

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      FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

      James - She might go higher within the organization, making a complaint to HR upper management against the investigator for not conducting a fair, neutral fact-finding investigation. If this is her choice, she should be as unemotional as possible and lay out the facts from her perspective while also describing the devastating impact that it has had on her. This can be in writing or via a scheduled meeting. Be prepared to say WHY a person would make up a completely false claim. What would motivate her to do so? Poor performance, personal vendetta, something else? If your wife doesn't get heard, she can always contact an attorney. I always encourage people to know what resolution they seek. What puzzles me is that if sexual harassment was substantiated, why didn't the company terminate her employment? Perhaps there are some key facts that are missing. Good luck.

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      James 8 months ago

      Hello, again. Yes, my wife was accused of sexual harassment by a female employee who reports to her. That woman is now on medical leave due to mental and emotional problems. HR claims they substantiated the employee's claims but never interviewed my wife or let her defend herself. Let's just sayfor arguments sake that HR did a pathetic investigation. What would you suggest we do; also assuming the accusation is false?

      Thank you,

      James

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      FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

      James - Definitions are really important, so let me try to clarify. Are you saying that the employee alleged that your wife sexually harassed him or her, meaning that your wife allegedly made "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature" towards the complaining employee? (I'm quoting from the EEOC; see https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/sexual_harassment.... for the definition of sexual harassment.) If so, your wife needs to clearly understand whether the sexual harassment allegation was substantiated OR unsubstantiated by HR. Clearly knowing that it was unsubstantiated should ease her mind.

      Even if sexual harassment was unsubstantiated, the investigator may have substantiated violations of other company policies or more commonly, found management conduct issues. (Typical examples include yelling, bullying, cursing, inappropriate comments that don't rise to harassment because they are not frequent or severe). The company would likely label this as "misconduct" (but not sexual harassment) and they'd want to make sure your wife knows not to do it again -- whatever "it" was. If I were her, I'd want to know if I violated ANY company policies, and if so WHICH one(s) and HOW ... so I didn't repeat the behavior(s).

      I'm gathering that your wife has been told that moving forward, if she needs to have disciplinary or key performance conversations with the complaining employee, a second layer of management needs to be present to witness these conversations. This is not an uncommon requirement when supervisors have been complained about. It's actually an important protection for the supervisor and the company against this employee's allegations of retaliation. She shouldn't be horribly offended by the request. Many supervisors I've worked with were thankful there was a witness requirement with such employees. Your wife does, however, need guidance from HR and her direct manager on how long this condition lasts so she can honor it appropriately (6 months? a year? longer? as long as she is supervising this employee?). Hopefully she knows, too, about documenting such answers. Please also keep in mind that HR may know things about the complaining employee that your wife does not.

      I'd suggest she needs more information before deciding whether to complain about a poorly conducted investigation. Objectively, if they didn't substantiate sexual harassment and simply counseled her on a management style issue like some rude remarks, she may want to cool her heels and talk to her direct manager about the situation. Revealing that she and her staff talked about the matter (when HR likely told people not to discuss the investigation) could become a bigger issue than you realize. As an investigator, I've had unsubstantiated allegations become employee terminations because people gossiped about the investigation to their coworkers. So sad.

      If your wife still feels an improper investigation was conducted, she might attempt to cite reasons (e.g., investigator was biased, investigator didn't allow the person complained about to state his/her side, etc.) and complain to the investigator's manager or higher up the food chain in the company (HR Director, VP, or her own management chain). Lastly, I'd caution that you are receiving second-hand information from your wife on the matter. She was undoubtedly upset and may have missed some key information. I'm sure you can understand that.

      I hope this information helps you move forward positively. Best regards.

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      James 8 months ago

      My wife was accused of sexual harassment by an employee. The accusation is false and baseless. However, HR's "investigation" concluded and claimed there was "misconduct" on her part. They also informed her of this through her boss, but did not inform her or her boss as to what the misconduct was, only that she will still be required to supervise this employee but she will not be allowed redirect said employee for any wrongdoing she does- that will need to be witnessed and reported by someone other than my wife(the employees supervisor). Neither did HR allow my wife to state her side or provide any of the documentation she has regarding this employee's repeated performance improvement plans she had been placed on recently. What can we do? Everything I've read has been about the protection of the victim, but what about someone who's been accused? Furthermore, what about someone who's been accused and found in the wrong by HR and HR did a shoddy investigation? They only interviewed one other employee under my wife's supervision. We know this because, other than this accuser, the staff love my wife and have talked between one another about this and made inquiries to my wife (their supervisor).

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      FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

      Tracey - Generally it doesn't work like that, assuming they filed the complaint in good faith. Of course you can technically do what you want to, but it'll drag the issue out substantially. And is that what you want? I can understand your hurt and angry feelings.

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      Tracey Hardin 8 months ago

      So when you're cleared of all the allegations, and you are not in the wrong, can you file harassment against the person that made the false accusations against you?

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      FlourishAnyway 8 months ago from USA

      Alyssa - It would not be in that boss' best interest to deny your daughter additional employment with a negative reference but rather just confirm dates of employment, job title, etc. through HR. I wish you all the best of luck as you work through the matter with your attorney.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      My daughter stood up. She got a lawyer to write non-threatening letter that requires her former boss to pay or to return the fabric. Also the letter will put a stop on her former boss from giving out negative information and telling lies about her because her former boss emailed to the other former male boss so bad about her. That is the proof. Then she feels boring about the human world. Today bosses are so greedy, selfish and mean. They keep causing employees to suffer badly. Humans keep creating hatred and bad karma. She is deciding to become a nun. She said, "Today in the human world, people keep creating bad karma. They are so greedy, selfish, and mean and arrogant. They do not know the human world is created by hatred. Human life is the process of enlightening and awakening. If humans do not awaken, they will come back here and continue to suffer the human obstacles." I prefer the true or false bad reference should be illegal. The future employers should not believe in former boss who gave out negative information because they do not know the true story behind. I prefer there is no reference check either. If I am a boss, I prefer to hire a candidate who has a bad reference because I have second thoughts. "What is true story behind such a bad reference because I do not get involved it? Is it personal hatred?" That's why the human world is unfair, greedy, mean, selfish, illusive, and filled with hate.

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Alyssa - You can always pursue the fabric issue separately through small claims court. An attorney can fully assess whether you have a case and where to go from here. I would recommend if your daughter is in severe distress that she consult a counselor to help her sort through her thoughts and feelings. Best of luck.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      Thanks FlourishAnyway. We were very sock after what my daughter has done for her and the company. She has a good IT skills. She also hand made birthday cards to her co-workers. On her female boss's birthday (her female boss said that her family was poor), my daughter hand-embroidered the peony garden and scarf for her. My daughter was about to teach her sister how to sew. And I was about to help fix her coat. Some how it was a good connection. All of sudden, she turned her back on my daughter and us for no reason. Then she told lies about my daughter deleting the code after she left.

      Would you please tell me whether we should ask for the fabric back? And how to stop her from telling lies?

      My brother in the country was upset and sent a harsh email to her, her boss and the staffing company and two local news. He revealed her truth face. Do you think whether my daughter got a claim? Anyway, my daughter was in that email. But my daughter did not know what he wrote or want us to do it. She was suffering emotional distress badly.

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Alyssa - Makes better sense now. Thank goodness she only spent 7 months with this terrible boss.

      This is a good opportunity to counsel your daughter that some people are not at all good natured (despite what they seem) but instead selfish, narcissistic, willing to violate ethical codes, legal statutes and social mores. My own daughter is a teen and I coach her through what people's motives might be in certain situations, some of which involve her and others which are completely impersonal to her (e.g., people we know or national political situations in which people have mixed motives or are downright scoundrels). By asking questions rather than preaching to her I find she is more open. Perhaps you might do the same or do a debrief of the whole situation wherein you both consider what else she might have done, no blame attached. This might help her recognize the signs next time she sees them and explore other responses. Build her up, teach her about the full spectrum of the human spirit and counsel her while others expose the woman boss. It's wonderful that your daughter has a committed and loyal family to support her.

      Let her know that almost every employee has dealt with a jerk of a boss or a coworker like this woman, and she WILL survive this and be stronger. Allowing this woman to destroy her confidence lets the woman win, and your daughter cannot do this! Much luck to you all.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      Dear FloursihAnyway, thanks so much for your precious time to answer my questions. I apologize for not being clear. My daughter had 7 month contract through the staffing company to work for the company X. She was let go by this 7 month female boss. Because she is keeping the $65 fabric that she wanted my daughter to get it for her. Besides IT skills, my daughter is also a seamstress and hand-embroidery artist. My daughter was so afraid of committing the ethics law, she hemmed this female boss's pants. Later she did not comply with her 7 month female boss about getting the Ivory items buyers. After 7 months from the final day, the family asked my daughter's 15 year male boss to email the 7 month female boss about getting the fabric back. It came out that this woman told lies and accused my daughter of deleting the code in the email that she wrote to my daughter's 15 year male boss. That's why we are upset. My daughter has a great compassion. She is very week at differentiating between good people and bad ones. She believes everyone is good. So it is so easy for people to take advantages of her. We do not want to sue the HR, we only want to reveal the female boss's real face. She defamed my daughter first. She told lies that the company leaders did not know. My daughter was not able to delete the code while she was taking bus and train for two hours+ without having a laptop and no internet. My daughter 15 year former male boss let me know how the 7 month former female boss defamed and told lies about my daughter. We asked my daughter's 15 year former male boss to email this woman so that we can check what this woman will say. Somehow my daughter's 15 year former male boss became our family friend.

      We are very upset. To stop this woman from defaming and telling lies about my daughter, we just want to reveal her fake face to her HR. If we want to defame her back by posting the truth, we will commit the US law. So we hand over this case to my family in the other country to deal with her. My daughter suffered a severe emotional distress, she did not want to sue or find out from the HR. We got hurt badly. So the elders in the family start fighting back for her.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      My daughter and I simply want to reveal this female boss's real face to the HR and want her to be fired. My daughter's female boss told lies about my daughter that my daughter deleted the code. And we just want to let everyone know the truth. On the final day, it took 2 hours for my daughter to go home by bus and train. She did not have a laptop, and there is no internet on bus and train. This female boss lied everything and hid the truth. This female boss will continue to defame my daughter when the future employers want to contact her. Please be noticed that my daughter was a contractor through the staffing company. This woman wanted the silk fabric. We got it for her. We want the fabric back or money back. My daughter did not want to contact this female boss after my daughter felt being betrayed and my daughter hemmed pants and did not comply with her request of finding and knowing the ivory items, so my daughter asked her other former male boss - 15+ year known - to email this female boss about getting back the fabric. It turned out that this female boss accused my daughter of deleting the code after my daughter left in the email sent to my daughter's former male boss. I do not know who and how to contact the superior of Illinois.

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Alyssa - Allegations are good faith statements of suspected wrongdoing, that's all. I've heard some doozies and have never personally known any individual to sue another based on false workplace allegations. Anything, of course, is possible. People like this woman thrive off of others' fears of what they might do. Your daughter needs to consider her options and take a firm stand or simply forget the issue altogether and be at peace with it, including the fact that the boss may repeat the behavior with other people. Either option has its merits and potential costs.

      There are a lot of unanswered questions. Doesn't she want to know from HR/management why she was discharged? Fifteen years with a company is a long time just to be dismissed without real explanation. Whether she complains is her choice, and perhaps you can persuade her appropriately. Is it possible she isn't telling you some important information? Just a thought, as I am a mother too. Perhaps an employment attorney can help you get to the bottom of the situation.

      From an HR perspective, your daughter, the discharged employee, should ideally contact HR and file a complaint of wrongful discharge so they can investigate. The further away from the source of action you get (i.e., someone other than your daughter, such as you or your brother in another country?) the harder it will be to truly investigate the complaints. You may also file the complaint anonymously, but then you really won't know anything about what happens with the case, will you? Or as another third option, just skip the employment part and complain directly to the government regarding the ivory request since you indicated you have proof. Sometimes making someone's life hell through legitimate channels is worth the trouble even when you don't get the specific resolution you seek. Just saying.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      Thanks. My daughter had emotional distress. She did not believe in the human world. If I email her former boss and cc to her former boss's superior, I might be sue for defaming her. But if my brother in the other country email her, will I and my daughter be sued? We have all email proofs.

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Alyssa - Asking an IT contractor to hem pants and illegally obtain ivory is strange behavior. Your daughter may first report the unethical behavior (and request an explanation as to why she was discharged) by filing a complaint with the HR department by filing a complaint first. She should also file for unemployment and offer an alternative explanation for why she was let go (e.g., that she didn't comply with the boss' illegal request). She might also consider reporting the supervisor to the state and/or federal agency responsible for trafficking in illegal ivory, not just to make trouble for the woman but to help protect poor elephants from being poached for their tusks. Good Lord. This woman must be stopped.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      My daughter was an IT contractor at the company X. During the time my daughter was working for her female boss, she asked my daughter to hem her pants that my daughter did not charge. Also she asked my daughter to look for the ivory buyers for her brother in law (sales of ivory is illegal). She made many promises to my daughter and contacted my other God daughter. My other God daughter gave my daughter the $65 silk fabric and my daughter brought the fabric to her boss because her boss wanted to make a skirt. All of a sudden, she let my daughter go for no reason and my daughter did not collect the money yet. On the final day, it took 2 hours for my daughter to go home because she had to wait for bus and train. She did not have a laptop or access to internet on that day. No internet on bus and at the train station. Recently my daughter asked her 15-year former boss to email her female boss about getting back the fabric or money for the fabric. It came to know my daughter's female boss talked bad about my daughter. She accused my daughter of false allegation for deleting the code after she left. How would she delete the code after she left and during the time she was waiting for bus and train and coming home without having laptop or accessing to the internet? She blamed that my daughter was a manipulator. My question is whether my daughter should sue her? Does my daughter has a defamation case?

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      Katie 9 months ago

      Hello! My husband was called yesterday by hr saying he was under investigation and they would like to meet with him. He went in today and was fired. They wouldn't tell him why he was under investigation or what he was specifically being fired for. They just said that it fell under their zero tolerance policy. Is there any recourse he has? Does the employer have to let him give a diffence against the allegation? Thank you for the help.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      My daughter had a contract job as a SharePoint Analyst at a company. While she was working there, her female boss contacted us personally (including my other God sister who does not work for that company.) While my daughter was working at this company, she had helped her boss to hem the pants and made friends on FB account. My daughter also remembered her female boss’s birthday as well as the others’. Her female boss also asked my daughter about looking for the ivory buyers. During my daughter’s work with this female boss, my daughter got insulted publicly in email. Her boss also emailed to my other God sister about her family and promised many times to my birth daughter about converting the contract to the full time. My other God daughter also gave handmade necklace and 100% silk fabric to my daughter’s boss. All of a sudden, my daughter’s female boss let her go without any reason. On the final day she was leaving the company for home, she was waiting for train and bus to go home for 2 hours without having a laptop or access to Internet. Then, my daughter continued to go to the other state on Metra. It took almost 2 days to get to my other friend in the other state. So my daughter’s former female boss personally owes an amount of money for the fabric. She asked her 15-year former boss to email to this 6-month female boss about the money and the fabric. He came to know that the former female boss accused my daughter of false allegation upon on deleting what she has done on the final day. How would my daughter delete things while she was on bus and train without laptop and access for almost 2 days? Also my daughter’s female boss claimed that my daughter is a manipulator. My questions are whether my daughter is a manipulator? or that female boss is a manipulator? Would you please tell me how to resolve this misunderstanding? And how my daughter finds a job and reference? Remember that her work is very successful.

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      Alyssa Harolds 9 months ago

      Hi, I have a question. My daughter had a contract job as a SharePoint Analyst at a company. While she was working there, her female boss contacted us personally (including my other God sister who does not work for that company.) While my daughter was working at this company, she had helped her boss to hem the pants and made friends on FB account. Her boss also emailed to my other God sister about her family and promised many times to my birth daughter about converting the contract to the full time. My other God daughter also gave handmade necklace and 100% silk fabric to my daughter's boss. All of a sudden, my daughter's boss let her go without any reason. On the final day she was leaving the company for home, she was waiting for train and bus to go home for 2 hours without having a laptop or access to Internet. Then, my daughter continued to go to the other state on Metra. So my daughter's boss personally owes an amount of money for the fabric. She asked her 15-year former boss to email this female boss about the money and the fabric. He came to know that the former female boss accused my daughter of false allegation upon on deleting what she has done on the final day. How would my daughter delete thing while she was on bus and train without laptop and access? Would you please tell me how to resolve this misunderstanding?

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Sara0616 - First, it's challenging to comment because I don't know the precise nature of your complaint and what resolution you are seeking. I also don't know what kind of hard feelings were stirred up between you and HR and you and your supervisor.

      You do have a history of addiction in the past which has and is being medically managed successfully; this is a legally protected disability whether you realize it or not. (Current illegal drug use is not a disability.) Typically, you do not have to divulge this information unless you want to or it's relevant to a request for accommodation on the job. You don't have to produce a theory as to where or how he came up with this information (i.e., snooping and seeing your Rx pills). This would save you from having to spill your guts about your past. People generate all kinds of gossip and baseless claims. If I were in your position, I'd likely say I have no idea where he came up with this garbage and thus protect my own medical privacy. An exception would be if they ask direct details. (You have no idea what they may know or what others have said during the investigation.)

      One thing to watch out for: I'd be sure I knew the company's policy on bringing medication into the workplace. Do you really need to bring it into the office? Do you need to register it with the company nurse or notify your supervisor/HR? Is it better that you just keep it in your car? I'd also make sure my purse is locked up (hey, there's personal information in there) and I would not allow employees unauthorized access to snoop around my office, looking at unsecured files or computers or whatever. When talking with HR just make sure you know what resolution you seek (e.g., for HR to coach him on his behavior, for his new supervisor to discipline him, etc.). I hope this helps you make this situation go away.

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      Sara0616 9 months ago

      My question is kinda of opposite. I have worked at same company for ten yrs with excellent reviews and promos. I oversaw an employee who transferred dept. s 8 months ago. He's known for gossiping and complaining and at the time was repeating to anyone who would listen what a bitch I was. We Did have some tensions toward the end but I let it go cuz he was leaving. My supervisor was aware. A couple weeks ago I was told by someone that he overheard a conversation between him and another employee that was considering applying for his old position. He asked him how the job was. This person proceded to tell him that I was a crazy bitch to work for. All I do is flip out and yell all day. When he calls in sick I yell and hang up on him. None of it is true and he never called in sick so that was impossible. He also said that I am addicted to heroin and do drugs in my office. This infuriated me obviously. I went to HR to complain. Meanwhile a lot of other problems arose from this that has caused bad feelings between me and my supervisor and also me and HR. I don't agree with the lack of communication on the investgating process. My question is what should or shouldn't I divulge. I had a problem with prescription pills about 12 yrs ago. I am currently taking prescribed medication for this. It has nothing to do with heroin and this accusation is totally untrue. The only thing I can think of how he came up with this story is- I have my own office but this person has keys and access to it at all times due to job responsibilities. I know for a fact he has a habit of looking at patients X-rays and records and patient info so it wouldn't put it past him to have looked in my purse or drawers. I know he does pain pills and has a record of drug charges so I'm sure he's aware of different programs for abuse. I believe because of the name on my prescription bottle he is assuming it was for heroin I just really want to know if I should just deny the a trial accusation and offer to take a urine to prove it or should I tell hr I am on this prescribed medication and my theory on how I think he came to this conclusion. I don't want to have to tell hr and my supervisor my medical issues. I don't feel it's necessary and think it will make me look bad even though it's been 12 years and before I was hired 10 yrs ago. I have not been spoken to by hr yet. How would you as an investigator handle This when I'm the one who went to hr not the other way around. Obviously if I was using I would not want to bring this up but I have nothing to hide. Hope this wasn't too confusing. TIA

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Simon - From my experience, they will complete the investigation regardless of whether you quit. Then they will turn over evidence and work with local authorities if they want to press charges which would likely be the case. (Sorry, but quitting won't make it go away. It may save you a little on-the-job drama and embarrassment, however, in front of others.) It's remotely possible they won't be able to pin it on you, but with cameras and other loss control measures that's a far stretch. Consider legal advice.

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      Simon 9 months ago

      What if I resign? Can they still investigate if I do quit the job?

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      Oh, my! Simon - What you did is fraud. Depending on how Walmart pursues it (and I would imagine aggressively because they can't allow employees to steal from them), you may be facing not only discharge of employment but also charges. Get a lawyer.

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      Simon 9 months ago

      I am under investigation at work for theft. I work at walmart. I stole some gift cards. What should I do? Should I consult with a laywer? Am I going to have a criminal record? I need help please. Tell me what to do in detail.

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      FlourishAnyway 9 months ago from USA

      SleeplessIN Tortuga - You say it's 3 different times but also 3 out of 5 so I'm not sure if there are 3 or 5 incidents. Were all of them unsubstantiated? Was there any thread connecting the issues, like all of the complainants female, the same race, complaining about similar types of offensive treatment (e.g., sexual jokes or whatever)? You have to analyze WHY all of these separate people over the years are making accusations against you that are either misunderstood or just plain false? What is their motivation? Do you perhaps have opportunities to improve your communication or management skills? Do you play favorites? Have you been trained in how to interview, hold performance conversations, and discipline employees effectively without running into legal and policy issues with employees? I hope I've given you some things to consider.

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      FlourishAnyway 10 months ago from USA

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

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      Steve 10 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

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

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      ChrisO 11 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

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

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

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      ChrisO 11 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 11 months ago from USA

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

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      loveyourpets 11 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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      minor issues 12 months ago

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

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

      What should we do next

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      Beth 12 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      dd 12 months ago

      Hi dear,

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

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      dd 12 months ago

      Great! I will keep you updated. Thank you.

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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      dd 12 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      mona 12 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA

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

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      mona 12 months ago

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

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      FlourishAnyway 13 months ago from USA

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

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