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JBaxLaw, Employment Lawyer
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Experience:  Government and private sector employment law experience
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I am being falsely accused of sexual harassment at work. I

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I am being falsely accused of sexual harassment at work. I feel like I am being slandered for no reason, with no proof. I have been put on suspension without pay pending an internal investigation. The human resources team that is investigating the accusation is comprised entirely of women. I was just wondering what my legal recourse here is? What rights do i have? I am allowed to view the written statements of my accusers? If they terminate me based on these false allegations, do I have a right to sue? Thanks for your feedback.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  JBaxLaw replied 3 years ago.
Hello,

I am an expert at JustAnswer and will be assisting you. I would like to address a few important issues before answering your question.

Please remember that I receive no credit for assisting you unless you accept my response. You cannot accept when I make an inquiry, rather you can only do so after you have received an answer. I answer questions based on the amount offered and rely on customers to follow through and "accept." Please remember that this is a chat or a dialogue so please reply to me if you have any questions regarding the information I provide.

Please note, nothing herein is intended as legal advice, no legal advice is being provided, no attorney-client relationship will be established and only general information is provided so that you may analyze your situation.

ANSWER:

The first issue to consider in employment situations is the employment relationship. I will assume you are an "at will" employee as that is the most likely situation. In at will employment an employer is free to terminate an employee for no reason at all or almost any reason.

If sexual harassment is reported to an employer and the employer fails to take action, the employer may face legal liability. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination not permitted by law.

It is sometimes possible for a falsely accused sexual harasser to raise their own claim of gender discrimination or even sexual harassment. That is a fact dependent matter. For example, if the employer is using the claim as a guise to terminate the only employee in a work unit then gender discrimination may be occurring. Alternatively, another example occurs if a false sexual harassment complaint in retaliation for refusal of advances. The accused may consider their own complaint in such a situation. These situations are relatively rare, but still provide insight and help assess why a false complaint may have been filed.

Generally, when an at will employee is terminated there is no legal recourse. It is only when a termination can be shown to be wrongful that the situation gives rise to fruitful civil recourse. This could be where the accused is actually the victim of discrimination of some protected type, for example.

When a false statement of fact is communicated to a third party, the damaged person may consider a civil action based on defamation. Such an action targets the party making the false statement and not an employer where the employer is the third party. It is possible to seek recourse against a false accuser, but the party taking such action would have the burden of proof.

There is no general right to a statement made by an accuser in at will employment. However, you may consider requesting access to your employment file. If the document you seek is contained within the file this may result in obtaining a copy.

Thank you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thanks for the feedback. You said:
When a false statement of fact is communicated to a third party, the damaged person may consider a civil action based on defamation. Such an action targets the party making the false statement and not an employer where the employer is the third party. It is possible to seek recourse against a false accuser, but the party taking such action would have the burden of proof.
As far as proving false statements have been made, what steps would I take to do that. If I have no legal right to view the accuser's statements, how would I go about proving that I was defamed?
Finally, I have written my statement in response to the allegations that have been made against me. Should I go ahead a e-mail it in to the human resources department? Should I let a lawyer review my statement?
Expert:  JBaxLaw replied 3 years ago.
Evidence may be obtained via the discovery process after filing suit. During discovery a plaintiff can force a defendant or other parties to produce such documents.

I assume your response is a denial. Typically, such a response should address each accusation in a clear manner. If there are multiple accusations, sometimes numbering the responses to match particular accusations is useful. Responses should include any supporting information or evidence. For example, a witness statement. Any opportunity to rebut such an accusation should generally be utilized. Most employees handle rebuttal statements on their own due to the cost of an attorney, but if you are able to obtain representation it would be wise to have your rebuttal reviewed.

Thank you
JBaxLaw, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11319
Experience: Government and private sector employment law experience
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Employment Lawyer
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Government and private sector employment law experience