Suspended for False Sexual Come-On Allegations

Question:

I went into work today and was immediately suspended. I was escorted from the premises. Why? 4 days ago I sacked a worker who had been employed for 3 weeks because she was useless at the job.

Yesterday she made a complaint that I had come on to her and she had rebuffed me. I was totally gobsmacked. What do I do now? The situation is being investigated, and I am on full pay.

Signed,

Shocked and Worried


Answer:

Dear Shocked and Worried:

Your company probably has a policy on how to handle complaints of that nature–or they received advice to handle it in that way. That doesn’t mean they believe the allegations or that you are in trouble, only that the matter is being investigated.

Some companies take the approach that the person being investigated should not be on-site during the process. Everyone directly involved is paid to stay home until the investigation is finished. One advantage to that is that it usually means the investigation gets done quickly so the person can get back to work if everything is OK.

If you handled the firing correctly there will be documentation of what the employee did wrong or failed to do correctly, as well as information about your attempts to help her correct the situation. In most companies a supervisor or even a manager doesn’t have the authority to simply walk up and fire someone without some proof of problematic behavior or performance.

If you have that kind of documentation and had discussed your concerns with those higher than you in the organization, there will be proof that the dismissal was justified.

As for whether you came on to her or not, the only way that could be shown would be if a witness was present or if there is some written evidence of a personal overture of that type.

If there is no evidence of wrongdoing and also evidence that the employee was dismissed correctly,you will likely be back to work in a few days. That is especially likely if you have never been accused of such behavior before and if you own work record is good.

When someone is fired they often are shocked and angry, especially if they feel they were not given a chance to learn or improve. If they think the supervisor was unfair or unnecessarily harsh, they may lash out at that person to create problems for them in return. They sift through every conversation to see if anything happened that could be complained about. If even one thing can be used, it often is. That may have happened in this case.

If your actions were correct and appropriate for a supervisor and if you followed company guidelines about dealing with the situation, that will be shown in the investigation. If you’re an effective supervisor your company will be anxious to get you back to work, so this time away won’t last long.

When you return you will be better off if you keep any conversation about this low-key. There is a temptation to discuss it with employees or other supervisors, but that tends to stir things up more. It will probably be best to thank your manager for a fair investigation and put your focus back on your work.

Best wishes to you in this situation. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe