False Sexual Harassment Claim Lawyers
What Should I Do If I Have Been Falsely Accused Of Sexual Harassment?
If you are accused of sexual harassment, be very cautious in what you say and do. Ultimately, what you say may be used against you, and sexual harassment claims often come down to a question of proof and credibility. Do not attempt to "get the last word" with any potential accusers and although it will be very difficult, do not become vengeful or angry with other employees. Such behavior will only cast a worse light on you.
False accusations of sexual harassment can give rise to claims of defamation. However, unless the defendant is very wealthy and you are clearly in the right and the other party clearly wrong, defamation actions are expensive to bring and very difficult to win.
My Co-Workers Learned I am Being (Falsely) Accused of Sexual Harassment - What Should I Do?
If word of the sexual harassment allegations has spread throughout your company, you should first find out who is responsible for disclosing the information. It could be the employee who made the accusations, the employer, or even yourself. Once the party is identified, then a claim for defamation may be possible, although that is an option that should be explored with an attorney.
How Can Employers Separate False Accusations from Real Accusations?
It is important for employers to be fair and objective to both sides until a conclusive investigation can be made. First, employers should treat all employees the same or be prepared to face discrimination suits later on. For example, if a female employee in her twenties is allowed make small jokes, then the male co-worker in his forties should be allowed the same leeway (as long as it doesn’t get out of hand).
Second, employers should avoid publishing the accusations to the public. Publication of false information is the quickest way to a defamation claim.
Finally, the employer should adopt the legal stance of “innocent until proven guilty”. Employers should avoid mistreating or punishing the accused until the investigation has been concluded. Doing so without solid evidence creates a hostile work environment for the accused, which, ironically, is a harassment claim a plaintiff can make under the law.
If I Am Terminated Or Punished Based On a False Accusation, Can I File Suit To Recover Damages?
If the accused was punished, it might depend on the type and severity of the punishment.
If the accused was terminated and can prove the termination was based on the accusation and prove the accusations were false, then it may be possible to sue for damages. The accused can choose to pursue claims against the accuser, the employer or both.
Do I Need an Employment Attorney?
If you are being accused of sexual harassment, then it is very important to consult an attorney immediately to prepare a defense as well as manage your conduct in the immediate future. If you have been recently terminated because of a false sexual harassment claim and you feel maligned by rumors, then talking to an attorney about a possible claim for defamation would be advised.
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Last Modified: 05-16-2012 11:56 AM PDT