Co-Worker Falsely Accused Me of Assault!

Question:

A co-worker falsely accused me of assaulting her, but her supervisor and another co-worker witnessed our conversation, which backed up my claims. In fact, I have never put my hand on anyone in that place in a negative way. Even when I was physically assaulted by the supervisor I did not put my hand on her; so why now?

I had no problems with the employee and I wasn’t aware of her having any problems with me. What I do notice is that when employees know that management officials don’t like you they tend to jump on the bandwagon to appease management and I believe that is what she was doing.

Because of her lies, I am under investigation and awaiting administrative action. I told the investigators for my government organization to speak to the witnesses to prove that I didn’t do what she accused me of, but they only spoke to one witness and that witness claims that their line of questioning seemed as though they wanted to paint me wrong even though she repeatedly told them that she saw nothing that I was accused of.

In fact, the falsely accusing employee’s supervisor said that he saw nothing that the employee accused me of.

If we go in front of a Judge, I can prove that she is lying, but no one wants to hear what I have to say. This incident happened in the middle of June 2011, yet these people have yet to get back to me, even though I contacted them on several occasions for the results of their investigation. I work for the Federal Government; are there laws that speak to this issue?

Signed,

Feeling Railroaded


Answer:

DearĀ Feeling Railroaded:

I have changed some of the information you provided to conceal your organization.

There are no laws about how a personnel action must be investigated, but there are HR policies within your organization about investigating cases of all kinds, including this. If you think the case is not being investigated accurately, let HR know the names of witnesses who haven’t been talked to and ask that they be interviewed.

Situations such as you describe are usually difficult to decide about because there are often varying perspectives. Asssault implies being hit, pinched, shoved, pushed, having someone lay a hand on you or some other touching or physical contact. If you never came into any physical contact with the accuser, the only way you could be found guilty would be if someone other than the accuser decided to blatantly lie just to make you look bad. Most people won’t lie to that extent. If there was more than one witness it is even less likely that one or both would lie.

What usually happens to delay these cases is that even though there is no proven assault the other issues that went along with it are considered to see if there were rules violations related to the incident. For example, you may not have assaulted the other person but may be found to have treated her with disrepect or extreme discourtesy. Or, it could be that both of you will be found to have been rude ot each other. Or, it could be that neither of you will be found to have done anything that can be linked to a rules violation.

I agree that taking since June for an investigation seems to be too long. However,often these go to a headquarters section and the time lag extends out as a result. Ask your manager if he or she knows the status of the case. Or, ask HR about it when you ask them to investigate further.

Be careful about talking to witnesses so you aren’t charged with coercing someone. Also remember that a witness isn’t likely to tell you if he or she saw the incident differently than they are willing to admit to you. Clearly something happened that led to all of this. It could be that what you consider to be minor was not viewed that way by others. Or, it could be that it was viewed just as you saw it and your name will be cleared. I hope that is what happens and that it happens quickly.

In the meantime, work to present yourself in the most positive way possible. Don’t complain about this to others but instead focus on doing the best work you can. Consider what might have led up to this current situation and work to avoid those circumstaneces in the future. The last thing you need is for this to happen again! It sounds as though you have a workplace that has plenty of problems, so you don’t want to add to your own worries by stirring the pot.

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

Tina Lewis Rowe