Des Moines, IA- Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives thousands of sexual harassment complaints. Many of these complaints are legitimate, but the ugly truth is that some people falsely file sexual harassment claims against their coworkers.
There is no hard data on how many false sexual harassment complaints are filed each year so it’s nearly impossible to determine how big this problem is. Most people are not going to admit to sexually harassing a coworker, making it a situation of one person’s word against another’s. This puts an employer in the position of trying to determine if the allegations are true.
When an employer receives a sexual harassment complaint, the must investigate the allegations to prove if the claims have merit. This investigation will involve interviews with the accuser and the accused. They will also likely speak to other employees to see if they’ve witnessed any inappropriate behavior from the accused. Few employers will hire someone from the outside, such as sexual harassment attorney, to investigate a complaint so they must use their discretion when making their final determination. Unless the harasser admits to their deeds or the accusers confesses to filing a false complaint, it is left up to the employer to decide who is being truthful and who is not.
An employer is legally compelled to take action and discipline an alleged harasser. Since an employer faces lengthy and costly litigation for not appropriately punishing a harasser, they often decide to discipline or fire the accused, knowing they have few legal protections against such actions. Allowing sexual harassment to persist in a workplace is illegal, while firing a person for a sexual harassment complaint is not, regardless of whether that accusation is false.
A false sexual harassment allegation can be very damaging to an innocent person. They can be denied promotions and raises based on allegations alone. In many cases, an employer can decide to simply fire the accused without solid proof of their guilt in order to shield themselves from a civil suit. This puts a falsely accused employees at a serious disadvantage and can damage their ability to secure future employment.
If you have been damaged by a false claim of sexual harassment, you have legal rights and may wish to pursue a defamation suit. These suits can be costly and you must be able to prove beyond doubt that the sexual harassment claims against you are false. Before deciding to take this course of action, you need to speak to an attorney with a background in employment law.
In some cases, a person who has suffered financially because of a false sexual harassment accusation, they may be able to sue their employer and/or their accuser for damages.
When you have been falsely accused, you may find it helpful to contact a sexual harassment attorney to discuss your case. During a sexual harassment investigation, anything you can be used against you and damage your claims of innocence. The advice of an attorney can help you avoid saying anything that will cause you further damage.