False Sexual Harassment Claim Lawyers
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What Is Considered Sexual Harassment?
To determine if you have been falsely accused, it first important to understand the types of behavior that are considered sexual harassment. There are two major types of sexual harassment in the workplace: Quid Pro Quo and Hostile Work Environment.
- Quid Pro Quo: When an employer’s decision, when it comes to hiring, assignments or promotions, is determined by sexual favors performed by the employee. An unwillingness to enter into a relationship or even to stay in an existing relationship with an employer is also considered sexual harassment.
- Hostile Work Environment: When verbal, non-verbal or physical behavior is concentrated on an employee’s sexuality by an employer or another employee. The standard is that if a reasonable person would have difficulty working under the work conditions or would find the behavior intimidating or offensive, then the behavior is considered sexual harassment.
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 in the presence of others. 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. Although it may be difficult, do not become vengeful or angry in front of other employees. Such behavior will only cast a worse light on you in a potential lawsuit.
If you are falsely accused of sexual harassment you may have a claim for defamation. However, unless the evidence of the false accusation is nearly indisputable, defamation actions are expensive to bring and very difficult to win.
What If a Co-Workers Learned About the Accusation?
If word of the sexual harassment allegations have spread throughout your company, you should first find out who is responsible for circulating 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. This is the point where it would wise to seek the advice of a lawyer.
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 conducted. First, employers should treat all employees the same or be prepared to face discrimination suits in the future. For example, if a female employee in her twenties is allowed to make innocent jokes, then the male co-worker in his forties should be allowed to do the same long as a reasonable person would not be offended and the work environment remains appropriate.
Second, employers should avoid publishing the accusations to the public, which includes verbally voicing the belief that the accusations are true or false. 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 the accused can make against the employer.
If Terminated or Punished Due to a False Accusation, Can I File a Lawsuit?
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 that the accusation was false, then it may be possible to sue for damages. The accused can choose to pursue claims against the accuser, the employer or both.
Should I Seek Legal Advice?
If you are being accused of sexual harassment, then it is very important to consult an employment attorney immediately to prepare a defense. An attorney can also advise you on how manage your conduct during the dispute to prevent further damage to your reputation.
Similarly, if you have been recently terminated because of a false sexual harassment claim and you feel slandered by rumors, then talking to an attorney about a claim for defamation is advised.
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Last Modified: 08-06-2014 04:45 PM PDT
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