How to deal with being falsely accused of sexual harassment

Dear Readers: Sexual harassment is a serious issue that I’ve written about on a number of occasions. But the following email made me realize there was one aspect of it I hadn’t covered-what happens to people falsely accused of harassment. Tell me how you’d respond to the person who wrote the following email and what you think of the issues he raises.A female coworker lodged a charge of sexual harassment against me. My supervisor informed me that a formal investigation into the charge(s) would be commenced. Shocked by the allegation, I developed a deep sense of fear and overall sickness. I became so ill that I had to seek medical assistance.  I requested administrative leave and was summarily denied.

I was put through a five month investigation in which all of my coworkers and colleagues were questioned about what they may have observed or heard. The findings of the investigation yielded no substantiation to the allegations made by the female coworker.

Subsequently, I made a written request for reasonable accommodation under the American’s with Disabilities Act, a transfer from the worksite. Employer denied the request citing that ‘a good faith personnel action was taken.’

After being released from treatment by my doctor, I was ordered to return to work at the very same job and worksite in the presence of my colleagues and the accuser.  My physician had given me a medical preclusion from returning to the worksite since, in his opinion, the worksite is injurious to my health. I chose to follow my physician’s advise and not return to the worksite.  I was then terminated from my employment because of ‘my failure to return to work after being directed to do so.’

Because this matter involves a public employer and I have no money, I am unable to locate an attorney to assist me in putting things right.  As a further insult, the employer is issuing to prospective employers references containing statements which have been both ambiguous and go beyond stated policy. These statements have made it virtually impossible for me to obtain employment for the last 3 years.

I realize that there is no room for sexual harassment in the workplace and the employer has an affirmative obligation to investigate all allegations or instances of sexual harassment.  The accuser should be afforded all necessary protections, rights and remedies should the allegations be proven. However where are the rights of the FALSELY accused? As it stands presently, the accused are afforded no rights, even if it’s determined they’re innocent of the allegations.  Isn’t it time for policy makers to think this through and fix this problem for individuals who have experienced the hellishness I’ve been through?  The mere allegation of sexual harassment can destroy careers, marriages, and relationships with others.  It can even leave you bankrupt and destitute.”

What advice would you give to this person? Do you think that he raises a legitimate issue? What do you think should be done for someone in his position? I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Working Wounded poll:

After someone is cleared in an investigation of sexual harassment at work, what should happen? (3,329 responses)

  • The person should be watched very carefully, 3.3%
  • Nothing. Things should return to the way they were, 18.2%
  • The company should bend over backwards to help the person, 78.4%

Working Wounded strategy:

Our winning strategy for someone falsely accused of sexual harassment comes from Peter M. in Santa Clara, CA. “The best defense against sexual harassment is to avoid situations that might give rise to a complaint.  It is not necessary to date co-workers, make comments about their appearance, tell jokes or make comments that have sexual innuendo, or to use profanity.  If a women co-worker seems to encourage such behavior or appears interested in having discussions about sex related matters, avoid the discussions.  In the event that a sexual harassment complaint is made, treat it with the same importance you would attach to being arrested and charged with criminal conduct: Get a the best lawyer you can afford as quickly as possible.”

Bob Rosner is a best-selling author, speaker and internationally syndicated columnist. Sherrie Campbell is a relationship and business professional, having applied her counseling background in a variety of challenging organizational settings. They’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic, especially if you have better ideas than they do. Also check out their complete column archive at workmash.org, “The Boss’s Survival Guide” and “Gray Matters: The workplace survival guide.” Send your questions or comments to bob@workmash.org.

36 Responses

  1. I have been suspended pending an investigation from work due to totally made up false sexual allegations made against me by a female co-worker. I cann not afford to lose time off from work without pay or I will be unable to pay rent and be on the streets. Right now my job only pays my rent and puts a few dollars worth of groceries in my refrigerator and that’s it! I’m living on a budget right now. The woman making these allegations is less than half my age (I’m 46, she’s 21). She HAS had sexual relationships with 2 supervisors who no longer work there. But because I am not responding to “HER” advances toward me, she gets upset and does everything she can to make my work environment hostile. Now she’s made false allegations with no proof what so ever and I’ve been suspended without pay. She’s used to having men fawn over her but I’m not that kind of man! I happen to be in a golden relationship with a woman I love and adore! Can someone please tell me what I can do to save my job and put an end to this harrssment?

  2. Mr. Holmes,

    Immediately file a claim of sexual harassment against her. It would be helpful, of course, if you have proof of her misconduct. Once you file a claim then you are protected against retaliation from your employer. I suggest that you consult an employment attorney in your jurisdiction asap. Good luck.

  3. I have a very similar situation, I am being accused of sexual harassment by a female staff who I had to write up for inappropriate touching of other staff who complained that she was giving back rubs to staff even when asked to stop. She has been very touchy feely since she came to work for the Department and now accusses me of some of the most outlandish things, like poking her breast, touching her buttocks in meetings, kissing her on the lips for 7 seconds, and hugging her. Its true she initiated hugs with me and has been the most touchy feelie person on staff as other staff will witness to. I am looking for an attorney as well while I wait to see if the my Departments County Counsel will defend me as well. Should I wait to see what they will do or should I proceed to get my own attorney and sue her for sexual harassment?

  4. I should also add that I have been on administrative leave with pay since August of last year and only found out that I was asked not to report to work because of the false allegations of sexual harassment last month in April 2010. I have so much documentation on this individual its not funny and for her to make these false allegations makes me very angry especially since I trusted her, she informed on staff about there wrong doing almost everyday giving me the impression she was looking out for the program and my wellbeing. I truly have been blind sided by these allegations and it still has not set in that someone could be so malicious and lie to this degree.

  5. My husband is being falsely accused with sexual harassment right now. He is an assistant manager and a worker was crying at work and instead of sending her home he tried to comfort her. Well she was having sexual problems with her boyfriend. He talked to her for a few and then all seemed fine for about a week. Now she quit her job and cried sexual harassment. This is tearing my Hubby up and I want to find some sort of advice for him.

  6. I do maintenance for a apartment complex, a little over a month ago I was falesy accused of sexual harassment. I installed a dead bolt on her entry door about two months later a unit right next to her was having plumbing problems I knock on her door asked her if she was having any problem she told me her bathrm sink was draining slow.I let her know a plumber may have to come in and snake her line if he can’t clear it from the other unit. this conversation took place outside of her entry door. two weeks later The women’s statement read ” When he was changing my dead bolt after he was done he asked for a pen like he knew where it was at and then he looked at the bed looked at me and then looked at the bed. and he is coming to my door asking me if im having plumbing problems.”when i’m not”. I was totaly blown away when i heard it. since then about two weeks later I found out I can’t have a key to the office. my superviser told me the deadbolt on that womes door was the wrong type and needed to be changed. I asked the manager is she could change it for me she told me yes. Some time had past still not changed I aske the manager again to change it she said i will. few days later she told me she changed her lock friday picking up the grounds saw the lock hadn’t been changed at this point im thinking ok what the heck is going on. the managers lying to me. asked agian she told me she changed in another lie. on a thurs day I told the manager the lock has not been let’s take a walk and i will show you. she told me she didn’t have time. I took friday off got a emergency call at 8pm went to the apt complex turn the corner of the shop I see the manager and that women walking off together to go take a walk on the pathway near the complex. number 1 rule we can’t hange out with tenants. I come back and the lock was changed. I was standing at the managers entrey door i notice this womens key tag is hanging up in the manager’s apt. it’s been a month in the key box since the report and now it’s up in the manager unit. and it’s like im scared to death to saying any thing in fear of her making another false report and getting to the point where i feel i’ll off and on, trouble with sleeping i feel like every time i go back on that property I have a target on my back. I let HR now how I feel and what im going through it’s been over a week I put it in a Email I also requested for a trasnfer. I still haven’t heard from them. I love my job and it’s really tearing me up inside I truely need some very much need advice!

  7. my father was accused of sexual harassment and all i wanna know is if he will be able to return to work.

  8. I was falsely accused of sexual harassment by a female in my company and I will see an attorney soon to sue her and the company for false accusations against me I was transferred because of her and since then the jobs have been temporary. I will find my justice, women are using sexual harassment as a weapon against men, and it has to stop, 59% of accusations are false, women saying lies or misinterruptiing things should be put in jail for this crime, and ruining a persons standard of living. All you have to say is, Stop! or don’t look at me or don’t talk to me. That’s it, if I ever did anything, which I didn’t and stop being a B****.

  9. When women sexually harass men we don’t go crying wolf, and believe me women you guys can be even more aggressive but we will never complaint, so what’s up??? it’s not right. and it should stop just tell us, it’s that easy. Just say S.T.O.P. – and say you mean it. Thank you. If it ever happens.

  10. Well I read all your stories & it seems to mostly be in the work places,I pray you all get through it,I feel your pain,in this game it is always we are guilty instead of innonsent,A woman waves her arms of poor me & we are put to shame,sounds like the roman days,of just.

    Ok My sister after 40 years makes an alligation of me coming into her room & trying to have sex with her,my family of adults were always drinking,my dad died of complications of drinking my brothers 2 left & 1 sister,My mom still drinks & her brothers any ways most are still at it,but I have Quit,this alligation all came out of me making my 9th step ammends,Just telling her i was sorry for anything we had indferences in our past as there were many,we just do not do things alike, in AA. I finally gave into it,and am sober 5 1/2 years I sponser now,of course most of us were functional drinkers,my brother an engineer,my sister a big buisness woman in a sign co.& my other running my old auto shop,doing well.
    So now my family on my moms side sided with my sister,I was speachless,I did not know what to do,This was sooooo Wrong,It was not me on & if somthing ever did happen,I was so distrought I finally just looked up some certified respected Lie detector company in Los Angles & whally Proved beyond a reasonable doubt I was telling the truth, with my wife watching me do it,I challenged her to do the same,or to do therpy together or what ever she wants to do but,nothing,my family,& the rest are slowly drifting,i guess they still just belive her as she is the social butterfly of the family,New cars,house on the beach & al that,,I have not spoken to my mother for 4 years,as I find out now she has beem molested at a young age,so it is easy for her to feel her pain,,By the way,To top all of this off this accuation supposto of happened when we were kids between the ages of 10 to 13 or 14 we did not drink or use drugs & remember we were both kids,I want to threaten to take her to court,defamation of character,i think any girl who makes such public accuations there should be a state or some sort of an place we can go for help,with out draining us of what we have finacally,i know at 300 dollars per he a lawyer loves the fight.I belive if somthing did happen to someone & they need to come out of the dark I understand,that clearly,But just make sure you know what you are talking about,Not i Think it was you or any thinks such an alligation,ruins a mans reputation permentaly,even when we get to the truth,it is time lost & a clowd over our head for ever.

    I feel i must face her & not push this under the carpet,as it is killing me PS I have two daughters 33 18 & a grand daughter 11,,,If it was not for them i could possibly just move on but,my sister tried to convince them I did this it puts a shame to me & i know they are stuck in the middle,we are all torn but i told them to continus to love the family,never mind me i will deal with it & her.,She has vowed to me to tell everyone,about this.
    WHERE DOES A MAN GO FROM HERE????????? Just call me David,As i do not want to use my real name,,PS Dr Phil had some stories on innocent people & guilty,I would go there but I do not want to go an national tv,as the acusser is always guilty before innocent ,All of this kind of stuff should be treated like a car accident Who crossed the line & created the accident no one is guilty until the investagation is over. Peace David Crying & bleeding in my heart,HELPLESS!

  11. My husband was accused of sexual harassment at his job, he is head of security for a hospital and a patient accused him, his bosses suspended him for over a week without pay, there was an investigation he was cleared of all charges. this woman has causes a lot of trouble there with the nurses and at the time blamed my husband for the dr taking her off her meds, thats why she accused him. he lost over 600 hundred dollars which made us fall far behind on our bills. what can we do about this , we need any advice we can get.

  12. I was a jr hs teacher for 20 years. Admittedly, it took an awful lot of restraint to control my temper at times. Despite that, I never did anything to intentionally hurt a child. But every year, there was a complaint based on frivolous accusations from disgruntled students. I worked hard on classroom management so that I rarely raised my voice or displayed anger in the subsequent years. What do you know? Now I was a sexual predator. I finally left teaching and have little chance of landing another job in the field. The last year I taught was a chain of vindictive accusations from girls, claiming I was staring at their chest. The district did their typical poor investigation and summary kangaroo court. You are guilty until proven innocent. I would be destitute were it not for my parents and have made no money in the last 2 years. For all the harm that sexual harassment has done, the laws against it have been wielded like a weapon where there are no consequences for them afterwards. Something must be done to change this.

  13. I have a situation where a female employee (I am a supervisor) can all of a sudden say she was harassed and without the company even talking to me about it, she is believed and I am fired. This female was a bad employee (lazy) and she living with one supervisor, sleeping with another, and bringing dinner to another and she accuses me. She quits and then claims she had to quit because of being sexually harassed by me. She never made a complaint before, she quit and went directly into another job (gave 2 week notice) then after her notice is turned in on her exit interview she claims that she is leaving because I sexually harassed her. This was 10 weeks ago and today without notice, I am told I am being terminated for sexual harassement of this employee without even knowing it was coming. Blind sided all the way. I have been a supervisor for 12 years, never a complaint, no attendance issues, no writer ups, good reviews and now all of a sudden this trailor park goddess makes a claim and I am the bad guy.
    Any suggestions and I live in Michigan. I am 59 Years old and I am the oldest age wise in my department. Pure BS
    Any suggestions

  14. I’m a 50 yo male. The area manager for our security company told me ”don’t punch in because you’re fired”. Serious! He said that ”more than 7 women came forward and said I tried to coerce them into having sex with them”. My mouth was literally wide open. I said ”when did this allegedly happen”? He said, ”we’ve done a full-scale investigation and found out you’re harassing these 19 year old girls”.

    First off: These ”girls” used to pinch me on the side, sneak up behind me, cover my eyes and say ”guess who”?. One of them jumped on my back and said “Ken give me a ride to the warehouse”. I exhibited great self-control with these horny girls, and NEVER took the bait- verbally or physically. NEVER!. However, I was hit with harassment, and immediately fired without a verbal or written warning!! WTF?

  15. People enjoy the attention of lying Men and women alike
    Some people are so full of themselves they would love to beleive they
    were harassed

    I was falsely accused and I am female
    and I have overcome and I think the LORD for that

    The best revenge is Success. Make yourself the best you can in everyway and that along with a lawsuit will put the false accusers at Bay.

    Don’t ever let them think for a moment that they have got the best of you

  16. I was accused sexual harassment in the school. I lack social skills, so it is difficult to me to talk to women. I never think anything about rape or try to manipulate women. Because I do not know how to make or init a relationship, so the girls think me stocker and report me. All of the time, I was accused sexual harassment.

  17. Now i do not know what to do ,it may all destroy my life and my future.If the girls feel scare about me, is it enough to report me sexual harassment. I do not know how to read people, I cannot realize if they are scared about my present.

  18. My husband was accused of sexual harassment by a disgrunted employee. She felt she deserved a promotion and a raise. She goes off to HI and marrries an attorney. Comes back to work and quits her job and acccusses my husband of sexual harassment. Every allegation she made is a lie My husband was fired . He was fired in 2008 when everything hit the roof for everyone. She goes back to HI and in six months files a sexual discrimination charge against two of the largest companies in the world. Meanwhile my husband was unemolyed for one and a half years we lost our insurance ,savings, and retirement. At the time we had two children in college one who suffered from a severe chronic disorder. They were the ones who suffered the most. We were unable to get them students loans because our credit rating was poor and we could not sign for them. My husband had to take a job 1,000 miles away. My father suffered his first heart attack during that time because he was so worried. This woman destroyed our lives. Not just my husband’s but my entire family.
    In my mind she is no different than a common criminal. There was nothing we could do. A defamation suit would be too expensive and now when we can afford it ,the statute of limitations was up after one year. She did not win her sexual discrimination suit in federal court but she did to manage to destroy our lives. He solitary act changed my family’s destiny. There should be laws to protect indivduals from being falsley accused. She most likely on a beach in an expensive home and doesn’t give what she did a solitary thought

  19. i have a big problem a woman accused me a sexual harassment. how could she accused me of sexual harassment i didn’t force her. before i go to her apartment i ask permission and she said yes, and i say can i take a beer and she said yes. after that we drink beer…. and after an hour she and her son go to bed… and i said to her can i come in she said yes so i came in… after we have talk.. i kissed her before we do have sex she said no and i said to her just trust me and she said OK.. i slept with her till morning, i am surprised that at the night of march 15 a sheriff came into my trailer and she said the woman file a case of sexual harassment. the woman used to sleep with my co workers, i really need a help please tell me what to do… am i going to jail? please help…

  20. I have recently been accused of sexual harassment. I had a close personal relationship with a student at my university. I developed feelings for her and told her so. I didn’t develop these feelings in a vacuum. She flirted with me frequently, even told me “you are so cute!.” I never once crossed the line and mentioned sex, though.
    A week after confessing my feelings for her, the head of campus security broke into my house, searched my belongings, and then told me that I had been accused of being a threat to the student’s safety (not by her, but by some third party). I was immediately placed on leave, escorted off campus, and had to endure a 6 week investigation.
    Yesterday, the provost informed me that a meeting had taken place, and that I had been found guilty of “inappropriate behavior.” I haven’t been given a hearing, a list of allegations, or a chance to defend myself against the allegations. For all I know, the allegations were either completely fabricated or grossly exaggerated by the administration. There isn’t even a specific charge, just a vague finding of “inappropriateness.”
    I have been ordered to take an online course, never speak to my friend again, have been removed from the classroom, and will not be re-hired for the following year. I loved that school.

  21. I really appreciate hearing a perspective on this that is not female-bashing or anything like that. That being said, I feel the “winning strategy” you cited comes up short. Saying to either gender that they shouldn’t put themselves in situations where they’re likely to be harassed or accused of harassment puts the onus on the potential victim, not the wrongdoer, who if they are malicious enough will put forth their claims anyway.
    I’d like to see more emphasis in workplace training about not only discouraging sexual harassment, but how people can take steps to ascertain what they suspect is sexual harassment and if possible, take steps to end it BEFORE going to the employer or the law. I would guess that while some false accusers are doing it out of malice, some may be confused or unsure about their situation and whether what they experienced was really harassment or a social oversight.
    Sexual harassment is a serious problem and it shouldn’t be minimized, but neither should this one, because being falsely accused can ruin lives as much as being a victim of real sexual harassment. Thanks for a fair perspective on it.

  22. My husband was falsely accused of sexual harrassment by a woman that was disgruntled with his workplace. The woman said he touched her at a party at our house. That night she was completely drunk and left our house at 2 am. I remained sober and I know my husband never touched her. Following the party she continued to contact both my husband and myself because she couldn’t wait to come by again. His organization felt they had no other choice but to discpline him because she cried wolf. They initially fired him but he was able to ask for a review and they reduced the punishment to an unpaid suspension. Following the incident we have moved across the country, sold almost everything we owned, and rented out our lovely home to get away from where we lived. Today, he’s struggling to find work and I’ve fallen into a deep depression. I have issues with how the investigation, or lack thereof was handled. No one from the party was ever talked to and she was not asked to give specifics. She also had spent the past year making repeated sexual advances towards me which she now denies. Their only source of proof was an off color facebook post that my husband had made on her page which she initially liked. When she decided to make allegations of sexual harrassment she unliked the post. Also, the post was no where near as offensive or degrading as some of the sexual advances she had made towards me.

  23. I work for a hospital i am a building operator at nights and i always go around and check on people in the hospital making sure they are not cold or hot and that everything in there work enviroment is good and tonight i get to work and my manager is waiting for me in the powerhouse and everyone walks out like im in some kind of trouble then he says sit down we need to talk and says there has been a sexual harassment filed against you. I felt like i just got hit with a semi truck and ran over. I was like what are you talking about and he told me that she had said that i came up to her unit like 10 times a night and that another nurse had seen me looking at her throught a window. First off the only windows there are in this unit are about 5 to 6 storys off the ground.(I guess i can fly) and second she is always paging me and complaing about being cold so i always go and turn the heat up for her and come back in a couple of hours to check and make sure that it has gotten warmer and one night after i had left her unit i went back to the power house then walked around the hospital going to the other side of the hospital and as i was walking i herd my name called out there she was with two other employees smoking in the smoke hole so not thinking anything of it i went and sat down to shoot the shit they start asking me how old i am do i have kids were do i live and she mentions she is getting a divorce and her husband is giving her all kinds of problems i didnt say much at that point and then everyone went on there way. Now my manager say that she said i was following her. WHAT are you freaking serious. Obviously this is an attempt to get some attention i am guessing her husband left her for another woman and now i am getting these aligations against me. I guess this is what you get for trying to help people out and do your job to the fullest. I still dont understand how she can file sexual harrasment against me when i never made and suggestions to her never asked her for her number never gave her any kind of sexual advansment. All i was doing was trying to do my job and take care of people. Please tell me what you think i should do

  24. I was terminated for sexual harassment and no investigation was ever done. None. I was brought into a meeting and told what I had been accused of and that the decision had been made to terminate me. I returned to my desk to get my things and was given a box to put them in and escorted out of the building. Later, according to friends still there, I found out she had made a previous complaint to our supervisor. I was never made aware of that complaint either. How can they think they are protecting either party if they take NO action when a complaint is made? If I had been aware of a problem brewing, I could have made certain I treated her in a more formal manner. Now I get to hope a potential employer will take a chance on me. This stinks! Any GOOD lawyers out there?

  25. Tim, Some general advice:

    1. Your company is probably required by law to publish it’s rules and procedures for handling these cases. If you can’t find a copy that was given to you when you were hired, ask some of your friends who still work there if they can obtain copies of those procedures for you. You should be able to ask your former employer’s diversity officers (who ever fired you). Given the way they treated you, they probably won’t give them to you, but ask politely anyway.

    2. Communicate with your former employer via email only!This generates a paper trail, and you can use it in court if you really want to go that route. Just make sure to be polite in all of your dealings with the. I know it is frustrating and humiliating to go through this, so don’t let that show!

    3. Talk to an employment laywer in your area, preferably one who specializes in sexual harassment. Take those procedures that you got from #1 to your first meeting with him.

    4. You might be able to file a complaint with the eeoc if you live in the US. There are probably similar agencies in other countries if you don’t.

    I wish you the best of luck. I’ve been through it, too. It sucks and just about nothing will make it feel better.

    But, it sounds like you have a knock-em down case against these people. They probably aren’t allowed to dismiss you for cause without giving you the opportunity to respond like they did.

  26. Thanks. The Labor Dept. called the other day to “get my side”. I guess they are trying to deny UC also. I was going to wait until they make a determination and then see if the EEOC wanted to have a talk with them. And if not, I guess I’ll have to take it to the next level. Would that be wrongful termination type stuff?

  27. I’m not a lawyer, and even if I were, each state is different. I only know some of this stuff because I went through it myself.

    It certainly sounds like wrongful termination to me, and possibly defamation if they told the labor department that you were terminated for SH.

    You should find out if you live in an “at will” state (which means that you can be terminated at any time without cause), and what your employee file says. The exact nature of your position and your employment contract also matters.

    Regardless of the above issues, however, once a company publishes it’s procedures for the resolution of SH, it can be seen as a part of your employment contract, and you might be able to sue for breach of contract. Your damages might include lost wages, damage to your professional reputation, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

    I forgot to add one point to my last message:

    5. Ask for copies of all allegations against you. That means everything written and signed by the complainant, and any notes taken by whomever took the complaint.

    But talk to a local lawyer. He or she will know the laws in your state far better than I will. And take everything I said above with a grain of salt.

    Basically, what happened is that your former employers were far more afraid of being sued by your accuser than by you. Someone might also have been acting as a “White Knight” protecting the poor widdle girl from the big, bad mean harasser (which they think is you). It sucks, and it’s basically another form of gender bias (since they didn’t listen to you, but only to a “damsel”-ing female).

    Your accuser used a cultural stereotype to cast herself as the innocent, helpless victim and you as the scary tough bad guy. I don’t know what the motive might have been (maybe she’s crazy, maybe she has some reason to resent you, maybe she views you as competition and is trying to remove you, maybe she’s just looking for a payout). What ever the motivation, whatever the reasoning behind the termination, they had a responsibility to talk to you about it before they up and fired you.

    You can look up community of the wrongly accused, a voice for men, and any number of other blogs to help yourself through it. You’re not alone in what happened to you.

  28. Labor Dept. did make them pay UC. And we did even have to go through the three-way phone call crap. I think they know they screwed up. Trying to get an EEOC counselor to call me back now. I guess I’ve decided to fight rather than bow my head.

  29. Good Luck! I know it’s a painful decision to make… whether to sue or not. But on the other hand, these people dumped a whole load of manure into your life. This incident could have followed you for years, limited your career opportunities, and possibly caused all sorts of other unforseen difficulties.

    But I’m glad that to hear that they’ve realized their mistake. If you enter settlement negotiations or decide to take them all the way to court, you should look up the current statistics from the eeoc (available on the eeoc website). Their current rate of “no cause for action” in sexual harassment cases is 53%. With such a high instance of “no cause” cases, your employer should have been more careful.

  30. I was recently accused of sexual harrassment by a Female coworker. I too am female. We became friends in and out of work after she broke up with her boyfriend. A few weeks ago, she returned with her boyfriend, stopped talking to me, and then on Monday 8/19/13, I was called by my supervisor who took me to HR, and I was accused of sexual harrassment by my Friend (HR staff shared the letter she wrote about me). She stated at one point that I even asked her out (Despite me living with my Boyfriend). I found out today that I will not be suspended or fired, but will need to take a sexual harrassment course and be on a behavioral improvement contract. I informed HR and My Supervisor that my friend was calling me horrid names such as Brianna due to she believed I was Bipolar, and Tori because she said i had tourette’s. I had confided in her that i have a mental illness, and SHE was the one making jokes.
    I am sooooo emotionally drained. Found out on Tuesday that she was leaving the agency as well.
    I hope it passes.

  31. It sounds like this lady has some issues herself.

    Did they pressure you to sign something agreeing to the sexual harassment training course? They probably just wanted the problem to go away, and forced you into the course to cover their butts.

    I would look into your personnel file and see if there’s any record of this incident. It could come back to haunt you if you try to look for a job elsewhere. If there’s something in there, I’d challenge it.

    You might try to fight it, if you feel at all up to it. They shouldn’t summarily find you guilty if all they have is an accusation.

  32. I had to sign a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan) which stated I was to take a sex harrasment course and reduce joking or interactions with colleagues.
    Would my future employers be informed of the Signed Form?

  33. It depends on what your current employer’s policies are regarding this sort of information. Some places have a “verify employment only” policy. Of course, it also depends on the HR people to follow that policy. That’s why you need to look in your employee file or find out what other record is being kept.

    It sounds like they are just covering their butts so that your accuser can’t sue them. That is, she can’t say that they were indifferent or unresponsive to the complaint. It also sounds like they didn’t do their due diligence when investigating.

    Get a hold of your employee manual or the specific sexual harassment policy that they are using. Look for phrases like “Due Process” or “Rights of the accused.” If you feel like fighting this, take these to a sexual harassment lawyer in your area, and ask him (or her) for his opinion.

    The most important factor is the general atmosphere within the company or your specific working group. Since they are concerned about your “joking” and “interactions with your office mates”, what you really want to know is if there is a fundamental difference between your interactions and what’s commonly held to be acceptable among your colleagues. There are always jokes and interpersonal interactions in the office, and sometimes these are more ribald than at other times. Contrary to popular opinion, there’s nothing wrong with it, so long as no one crosses the line. It helps maintain cohesion among the workforce, and breaks up the monotony of the workday.

    If you have a trusted friend among your colleagues, ask to him (or her) if you can talk privately over coffee sometime. Ask that person if they’ve ever felt like you were over the line with any jokes or if you’ve ever made them feel uncomfortable. If they say “yes,” then you can ask them about it and find out why.

    You might even find out that your accuser had made some ribald jokes herself.

    But the feeling that I get from you is that you’re a nice person who was “hit in the face with a sledge hammer” over nothing, and that you don’t fully understand what is happening (most people don’t, until much later, when they’ve had time to process the events). I didn’t fully understand what was happening to me, either, until much later.
    Good luck!

    One more thing: If you trust your boss, or some other higher up in the company (some places are more cozy than others), then you might also ask to talk to them informally about what happened to you. You might point out that you weren’t allowed to respond to the charges, and that the other person had made snide comments about you as well. That might get things cleared up.

    But make that decision for yourself. I had one boss that I could trust, but his superiors weren’t trustworthy. So, it depends on your situation, and whether you feel comfortable about it. But talk to a trusted colleague first to find out if you’ve ever made them feel uncomfortable. And look at your employee file and the sexual harassment policy.

  34. Well, to make matters worse, today HR and my Supervisor met with me due to ANOTHER co-worker (male) reported I verbally and physically sexually harrassed him. I am SOOOOO overwhelmed. I ended up at the ER on Friday 8/30/13 due to the stress and high anxiety levels. This time, this Male Coworker stated I would pinch his butt, called him a “faggot,” and that I grabbed him and informed him that I wanted to “straighten” him out. I AM SOOOOOOO emotionless right now. I am trying to acquire legal counsel as this has gone TOO far.

  35. That’s not enough information to even begin to fight against this

  36. Sadly, we males are screwed. I had a disagreement with a co-worker. Never treated her badly and so then they called me and said I was “Suspended for SH and to wait till they decided to rule on it”

    Well, you cannot take Unemployment while they’re “Investigating” and even if you did nothing, YOU WILL BE TERMINATED. The employer can do this as long as you are in an “A Will” working state.

    They can use ANY reason to terminate you. As I was a temp, I was removed (They lied and said there was a layoff) and so I lost a great job.

    From now on, if I am ever removed form a position due to SH, I WILL make the employer pay the full ride (1 year unemployment) for compensation.

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