Falsely Accuse of Racism

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about accused of racial discrimination:

Can an employee get fired when he gets falsely accused by a customer? He has been with the same company for 18 years with nothing in his file. But now he’s getting accused of racial discrimination from a customer. And now he is under investigation from his company. If they have no evidence, he can’t get demoted or fired just because he is being accused?

Signed, Worried 

Dear Worried:

It sounds as though this is happening to a friend of yours or perhaps a spouse or family member. I’m sure this is a stressful time. Hopefully the investigation will show that nothing wrong occurred or that they can’t prove anything wrong occurred, and the problem will go away. His long time with the company should help.The truth is that an organization can demote or fire someone for any reason or for no reason.

Most businesses try to be more fair than that, but there is no requirement for proof of wrongdoing, even though that is the way it is usually done. The best thing your friend can do is to just keep stating that he did nothing wrong, and let his history speak for him. The company is pretty much obligated to do an investigation, but they may be anxious to show that nothing happened.

On the other hand, the fact that a customer complained seems to indicate that there was a conflict of some kind. Company management may feel that whether or not there was racial discrimination, they don’t want an employee to argue with a customer. However, that would most likely result only in a warning. I wish there was something magical to say to make this better or more easy to deal with. I’m afraid your friend will just have to let the investigation run its course and wait for the results.

In the meantime, if he’s still working and not on leave during the investigation, he should do his best to stay focused and avoid talking about it, except to managers, as required. When it’s done and they have found out that he did nothing wrong, they’ll remember how well he handled the situation and what a good example he was to other employees.If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens with this situation. Best wishes to you.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.