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John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2710
Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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Am a 24 year executive with major healthcare company. Manage

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Am a 24 year executive with major healthcare company. Manage 650 plus employees. The company has an anonymous complaint hotline. Four anonymous complaints have been filed against me in the last 30 days. All 4 were of the same nature. All 4 were fully investigated by corporate ethics and compliance investigators with lenghty interview of approximately 30 emoloyees. Reports were published - the anonymous complaints could not be substantiated. Now, a fifth anonymous written complaint has been sent to president and ceo of this company, with copy to multiple sr. Executives. Same anonymous allegations were present along with several other horrible untrue accusations. Ethics and compliance declined to pursue any further. Corporate HR and my boss (a sr exec of this company), decided another investigation would be performed by HR. The same 30 people plus others have gone through the interview process. Advise please. I am one very angry executive with 24 years loyalty to a company. How long can these outrageous investigations that are anonymous and include no specific facts be performed? This company process is making me ineffective.....cant manage a 50 million dollar budget and a billion dollars in cash flow for my business unit with all this chaos.....thoughts?
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 8 months ago.

Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today. I’m sorry to hear about this employment matter. I understand you're essentially being harassed by way of an employee or employees filing multiple anonymous complaints against you.

 

An employer has a wide latitude, and in some instances (such as sexual harassment allegations) a legal mandate to investigate employee complaints. Your rights in this regard are very limited. That is to say, unless you believe the employer is doing these investigations for an illegal reason, which there are limited illegal reasons, then the employer can do these indefinitely. Such illegal reasons would be

the civil rights protections (e.g., age, race, sex, religion), violations of public policy (e.g., investigates for attending jury duty, for refusing to break the law, for reporting illegal activity by the employer (aka a "whistleblower violation"), or having some contractual right to a just cause employment (meaning the employer cannot investigate you without industrial due process - which basically insures a fair and accurate investigation and decision). Without any of these exceptions, courts find that the employer has a legitimate business right to operate its business however it sees fit and the court will not second-guess the employer's decision to investigate. These policies and decisions may in fact be awful and clearly not fair or even make good business sense. However, they are not ultimately unlawful.

 

The other way to attack this, is to determine who the anonymous employee is and individually issue a cease and desist and/or file a lawsuit against the employee. Unfortunately, Tennessee does not mandate employers provide employees with a copy of their employment file. A difficulty you'll have, as such, is that you'll have to file a lawsuit against a "john doe", then subpoena your employer, then issue the cease and desist against the employee.

 

The possible claims you'd have against him/her, personally, if s/he fabricated a misrepresentation of your character to your employer, which resulted in your harassment, would be the following: defamation per se, tortious interference with business relations, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. You'd have to be able to allege and prove that the person intentionally misrepresented facts to the employer, with the intention to defame your character and cause interference with your employment, and that it caused you financial and emotional distress as a result.

 

So, as you can see, this is a difficult situation for you as you'd have to file a lawsuit and subpoena your own employer to get to the bottom of it. Thus I wouldn't recommend it unless you felt you had no other option. The best option is to ask the employer to simply stop acknowledging these frivolous claims against you and/or take some employment action against the employee for abusing what is supposed to be a good faith system.

 

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, and I wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Thanks. Appreciate the info. Interestingly enough, I called in the corporate ethics and compliance group vs using local ethics resources who co locate with my operation. I wanted the allegations put to bed by an external source and i wanted my people to see how serious I was about ethics and compliance. With the last letter that went to Sr. Mgmt, i requested that the corporate HR investigators put the absolutely agregious letter in front of everyone inteviewed and ask them "does Lyn do this, yes or no". I gave them my written consent with this request as I do realize that if my employer did something like that, they could be defaming my character. They refused.......instead, the interviews were very similar to those in the 80s where the psychologists took the dolls and said "did daddy touch you here"......you know the rest of the story. Guess it's time for this 48 year old female to retire. Yes.....company has benefited me well......but, company has changed. Oh well, stress is not really good for my multiple sclerosis, so maybe I will just become disabled or something.......thanks for the info and listening to me vent.
Expert:  John replied 8 months ago.

You're welcome. Please leave a positive rating before you exit this chat as it is the only way I get credit for my answers. You are not charged any additional fee by the website for positively rating my answer, but if you do not positively rate my answer I do not get credit for my answers. If you have any questions in the future regarding this matter come back to this thread and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks and good luck with the matter.

John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 2710
Experience: Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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