Getting accused of anything in the workplace is terrible and even more so when it is about an accusation of sexual harassment. There will often be a huge investigation followed by a lot of stressful talks and waiting for the updates about the outcome plus worrying about losing one’s job. This is something that nobody can truly prepare for and can only hope to cope with once the situation arises. Below is our compiled list of things to do if you ever find yourself accused of sexual harassment in the workplace.
Apologizing may be difficult for you, more so when you know that you’re just falsely accused; but know that some people can make up serious allegations of things when they’re offended over something trivial. A short apology can clear things up in case the accusation was a misunderstanding or was just made up to get back at you for another wrong.
Cooperate with the Investigation
Things can go from worse to worst if you act too defensive. By complying with the investigation, whatever information or evidence that needs to be found can be gathered faster which means you can also prove your innocence sooner. Know that complaints for filing a case for sexual harassment typically only have a time limit of 180 to 300 days. If the issue is cleared early, then it won’t come back to negatively affect your life later.
Clarify and Confess
A joke delivered the wrong way can come off as a form of harassment. If possible, keep your lines of communications open for possible clarification as well as recounting your version of the events. There are cases wherein employees engaged in an office romance ended things on a sour note and one party decides to create trouble by bringing up sexual harassment. Misunderstandings like this can be cleared up in a mature way by owning up for the things that you are responsible for. An office romance might be prohibited at your workplace and cost you your job but admitting to that is better than being accused and charged for sexual harassment.
Anything in writing or concrete evidence like video exchanges or text exchanges can go a long way in proving your innocence if things are consensual between parties. You can also compile a list of witnesses to help you prove that things did not happen as recounted by the other party.
Hire A Lawyer
Serious allegations may go beyond HR and go to court. Depending on the severity, sexual harassment can range from a few offending remarks to inappropriate jokes, or something more serious like a sexual assault when things occurred with physical contact. Since sexual assault is a crime, an accusation will result in a charge that will require the help of a criminal defence lawyer. Failing to defend yourself against a charge of sexual assault can mean facing several years behind bars aside from fines and other fees that you will have to pay. With jail time that can be as long as 25 years in prison, you should take accusations seriously and do your best to prove your innocence by hiring a criminal defence lawyer or sexual assault lawyer like Calvin Barry in Toronto.