Responding to a Disgruntled Employee Making False Claims
Although our jobs can be stressful at times, false accusations can make it a million times worse. Suddenly you’re placed beneath a microscope as you work to prove your innocence. As difficult as it sounds, the importance of going about your daily routine is crucial. The last thing you want to do is disappear or conceal yourself in your office. Keep up your normal pace and don’t let the quality of your work diminish. Even though the process may feel devastating at times and attempt to dull your spirits, it’s important to manifest a professional persona. Use this time to prove to everyone that you can handle what gets thrown at you. Fortunately, there are valuable suggestions that can help you navigate the investigation.
All Eyes On You
The first thing to remember is that everyone is watching. It’s extremely important that you keep your cool while being scrutinized. If you need to share your frustrations, do it away from the workplace. The last thing you want to do is appear angry or unstable. Heightened emotions will only feed into the accuser’s narrative. Don’t do or say anything to make the situation worse. Bad behavior can and will be used against you at a later date.
Take Complaint Seriously
Whether you’re the business owner or the accused party, it’s important that you take the complaint or accusation seriously. Never think it’ll just go away or that the disgruntled employee can be silenced. It would be a violation of federal law to take actions against the person making the complaint or to retaliate. Unless they request a leave of absence, the complainant must be allowed to continue their job while the investigation moves forward. In fact, modifications in work station placement and schedules may need to take place to protect the employee during the inquiry. More than likely, this will create a ripple effect in the workplace that will need to be addressed.
Cooperate and Document
During the investigation, it’s important that you be cooperative with those investigating the accusation. Don’t think that the HR department will have your back based on your years of service to the company. They must be impartial to do their job. When the allegation first comes to light, begin gathering evidence to support your innocence. Digital communications such as emails and text messages can be very useful. Record all the details you can recall and the names of witnesses who can corroborate your side of the story. It’s never easy bringing in a third party but clearing your name must be the first priority.
Continue to record details during the questioning phase and throughout the investigation. If you feel you’re being treated unfairly in the investigation, you have the right to seek outside legal advice from a workplace harassment lawyer. You want to be aware of your rights and possible outcomes. Refer to your company’s handbook on how they handle accusations against their employees. Due diligence will make an enormous difference in the outcome of the investigation. It’s your job and reputation on the line. Do everything you can to protect it.