Falsely Accused Of Choking An Employee

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about physical abuse: I have been accused of grabbing a member of my staff around the throat.

I have been accused of grabbing a member of my staff around the throat. I have two other members of staff who witnessed that I did not grab him in any way, but he has a outside witness who is his close friend who is stating that I did. I am now facing a disciplinary action over this. What advice can you give?

Signed, Worried

Dear Worried:

If the incident still has to be investigated, it seems likely that the truth will come out. However, the real issue is, what did happen? You’ll need to be able to explain that fully because there will be questions that need to be answered completely and directly.

The following questions are for your own consideration, but I’ll bet those at higher levels will want to know, if you are interviewed about this.

1. Was there an argument leading up to the accusation? How severe was it? Did either of you look or sound angry? How was it that an “outside” witness was present during a staff argument?

2. If there was no argument, is it possible that you and the coworker were joking around and one or both of you thought the grabbing was part of joking?

3. Was there some physical contact of any kind? Was there something that happened that might have been misunderstood as being grabbing or choking?

4. What happened to end the argument or conversation? Did it simply end and everyone walked away or did the employee act frightened, in discomfort or very angry? Did he accuse you right then or was it later? Was it as though people had to stop a fight or was it simply a conversation?

5. Have you ever threatened to do something physical? Have you grabbed anyone before?Those questions may have already been asked and answered, but if not, you should be prepared for them. They could also help establish that it isn’t reasonable that you would have done such a thing.If the matter has already been investigated and the decision has been made that you were in the wrong, there isn’t much you can do now except appeal if that is possible and resolve to show people through your future actions that you were treated unfairly.

If I were you I would also have a plan of action for how I intend to work with the accusing employee in the future. If he’s still there and you’re still there, you’ll want to make sure there is not even a hint of retaliation on your part. But, you will still need to do your job. So, talk to your manager about that and ask if you can contact him in the future if you’re concerned about it. For right now, if the matter is still under investigation, the best thing you can do is not talk about it to others, especially not the witnesses. Keep focused on doing good work. Develop something in writing in which you explain your side of the story. You can use that when you talk about it or if you have to submit something in writing.Best wishes with this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

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.