Many people do not know what to do when they are wrongfully accused of harassment. In the workplace, harassment is no longer a single-gender issue; both men and women can be accused of inappropriate behavior by their peers and subordinates. In some cases, employees may falsely accuse a coworker in order to receive a transfer to another department, steal a promotion or get revenge for some perceived slight. If you are accused of harassment, there are several actions that you should take immediately.
Document Every Interaction with your Accuser
Keep every email or instant message exchange with your accuser in a secure file. If possible, print these documents and keep them in a secure place. Your supervisor or your company’s human resources department will look at the available evidence to see if your accuser’s complaints are valid. By keeping your own documentation, you can prove that your interactions with your accuser were always professional and appropriate.
Avoid Confronting your Accuser
It may be tempting to denounce your accuser publically or demand an apology in private. These actions will only make you look unprofessional and inflame tempers further. You must avoid being alone with your accuser whenever possible. Private and unrecorded meetings may give your accuser more opportunities to make false statements about your behavior.
Speak with a Lawyer
If you believe that these accusations may cost you a promotion or a job, you should meet with a lawyer as soon as possible. Some lawyers have extensive experience in dealing with harassment lawsuits; they know the rights that their clients are entitled to in private arbitration. Having a qualified defense lawyer available will benefit you in the unlikely event that your case goes to trial.
Klingshirn, Neil E.. “Sexual Harassment: Rights of the Accused by My Employment Lawyer.” My Employment Lawyer. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2011. <http://www.myemploymentlawyer.com/sexual-harassment-accused.htm>.
“Compliance & Policies | Washington University in St. Louis.” Washington University in St. Louis. N.p., n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2011. <http://wustl.edu/policies/sexharas.html>.