falsely accused of sexual harassment

Question:

As mentioned in my previous threads, I was accused of sexual harassment by a former friend. I was cleared, she was terminated, and I’m now moving to a different department (promotion) My company received a complaint from a government agency and now she’s adding that I hit her. My company gave me a copy of the complaint and advised me that they would take care of it. I’ve been quiet about all this but I am genuinely worried where this is all going. This employee was my best friend and when she was up for termination, I was so shocked that she made all this accusations. I want to move to a different company and put this all behind me but I feel like betraying the company after retaining me despite strict policies on sexual harassment. No affair ever occured between me and this employee, we were both supervisors but I always ended up doing her work and she had a long list of violations to company policies. Now she’s filed a formal complaint and has added new allegations, apparently, now she’s adding physical harassment to the list. What should I do snd how far can she take this? This person used to boasts that her mom received thousands just by filing lawsuits with different establishments so this is like telling me that she just wants money, it’s just sad that she’s so ruthless that it doesn’t matter who she steps on.

Signed,

Still worried


Answer:

Dear Still worried:

I understand that you want this to be over and done with, but these things take time. I also can understand that you are concerned about charges being added. However, apparently your former friend will have no witnesses, no proof and no example of immediate outcry at the time this situation supposedly happened.

Whatever her examples of how someone she knows got money out making complaints, it hasn’t happened there yet. What she is probably hoping is that your employers will just give her money to get rid of her. I doubt that will happen if they think she has no case anyway. Keep in mind that making a federal complaint is directed at the company, not you personally. You aren’t being charged criminally with anything. She is alleging a hostile work environment or some similar charge. Your company’s attorneys have handled these before and they will do their best now.

Your message this time is that you’re wondering about leaving and going to another company. That’s up to you of course, but it seems to me that you are not standing very strong on this matter. If you did nothing wrong and you’ve received a good level of support from your company, I don’t see why you would think quitting would help. I think it would be unfair to the company that has supported you thus far. If you leave, their liability is still the same, but it won’t look good that you’ve left. So, why not let this play out?

If you want to be viewed as a person of strength, resolution and character I think you will benefit by either doing some strong self-talk or finding a counselor or other resource who can coach you through this.

The one thing I hope you will avoid is having your managers start seeing you as problematic for going back and forth on what you want to do at work. For them, this is a problem, but not one they want to wring their hands about all the time. They just want to get work done and see what happens. Let them see you as someone who is showing that same commitment to work in the here and now. I don’t mean to sound harsh about it, but sometimes tough love is needed in these cases, to help managers such as yourself avoid paralysis about a process that you have no control over. You can’t correct the past–and you certainly have probably wished you could do it over again. But, you can improve the present and the future.

No-one at your work is out to get you, that’s apparent. So, do your company and yourself a favor and make up for this hassle as best as you can by being the most productive, effective person they have. If you don’t remind them about it, they won’t think about it either, until they have to.

Feel free to continue to write to us about this, because I know you’re concerned. But also consider having someone there who knows the whole situation become a coach, counselor or mentor through it. You want to come out of it better than ever and that is possible if you keep moving and keep being valuable and effective to your company.

As always, best wishes to you with this. I can assure you that I am aware of your anguish about all of it. But, I still think your best option is to stay where you are and be the example of calm and strength under pressure.

Tina Lewis Rowe