Hostile Work Environment Complaint Against Me

Question:

I work in an office with several individuals and it was just brought to my attention today that I was named in an alleged hostile work enviroment complaint. I could not get any details from my supervisor only that the complaint had been sent to Employee Relations Bureau.

I did recieve an e-mail from the investigator stating that I had been scheduled for an interview the next day. I contacted my attorney and advised her of the situation as I feel it would be appropriate to have her there. I had one other complaint lodged on me one year ago in the same office and was given a written reprimand w/o having any due process to explain the situation.

Tensions run high in my office and I feel that my secretary made the allegation for whatever reason and as she is in the “clique” with other co-workers, I feel that even if I claim no wrong doing that I will be found guilty. I don’t know what my secretary hopes to gain by lodging complaints against me except to get me fired. What suggestions do you have so I can fight these allegations? Thank You.

Signed,

Worried


Answer:

Dear Worried:

I see that you have contacted an attorney, which is what I was going to suggest for something that seems to be this serious. If you have done that, your attorney will have advised you based on your specific situation.

The best way anyone can deal with this type of thing is to be able to show that the alleged actions did not occur. That might require witnesses and documentation.

The next best thing is to be able to show that relationships have been positive over time, and that there have been many supportive and appropriate conversations and actions. That is not considered mitigation for inappropriateness, but it can at least present you as someone who, overall, is a caring and appropriate person.

You say you were being interviewed the day after you wrote to us, so likely this has started its administrative path already. Hopefully your attorney is assisting you and helping you deal with the investigation.

If you can get through this, you certainly want to stay in close contact with your own manager about how you can effectively work with a secretary who seems to want to get you fired! I don’t see how either of you can work effectively that way. So, something needs to change, or be mediated, about that conflict. This is a challenging situation and I’m sure it’s very unnerving. I hope it will prove to be unfounded allegations and your name will be cleared. Best wishes!

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.