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I just found out that one of my staff filed a harassment…

I just found out...

I just found out that one of my staff filed a sexual harassment grievance against me for 'telling inappropriate details about my boyfriend.' I believe this is retaliation for her low performance evaluation. What are my rights?

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you discussed this harassment issue with your HR staff? Or with a lawyer?

We don't have an HR department. I just found out and all law offices are closed in my area.

Lawyer's Assistant: Is your employee "at will?" Does he belong to a union?

No union

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Is there a charge for this service?

Lawyer's Assistant: You just pay a $5 deposit now and the rest only when you get a reply from the Employment Lawyer. All of this is 100% satisfaction guaranteed, so you can get a refund if you're not happy for any reason.

How much will the reply be?

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Answered in 24 minutes by:
3/28/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10,210
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. Just so you're aware, it's $37 for your written interaction with me and there's a chance for a $59 phone call; however, that is optional. Would you like to continue?

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Great, thank you! The system may automatically ask you for a phone call; however, it’s not required that you take it. Bear with me a moment while I review…

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
I would rather type. I am in a crowded room

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Have they interviewed you about this? Have findings been determined?

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
No I understand they will interview me on Monday when I return to work. I am out of town at a workshop.

Understood. Ok, is the only reason they did this was because of the low performance evaluation?

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
I have made comments that may have been inappropriate but it was always in a group setting which I considered 'girl talk'. This person never acted embarrassed or concerned about my comments. They were about my boyfriend. Never anything about this person who filed the grievance.
Customer reply replied 23 days ago
This person resigned immediately after her evaluation. I think this is retaliation.

I see what you mean. So, if you are the respondent in these cases, the best thing that you have to defend against this is just the truth. The law protects employees (including yourself) against sexual harassment and discrimination. If they did this because they were mad about a performance review, then it's likely not based on your gender, but on something non-discriminatory (the review). This means that you'll have to deal with a bunch of interviews and eventually it'll come to a close.

What I usually recommend is that you create a timeline in your head or on paper about all of the instances. You'll likely be asked what you said or to verify comments that were allegedly made by you. If you don't remember, or if you believe that it may lead to trouble, just say, "I don't recall." You're not in court and you're not under oath so if there's something that may harm you, use the "I don't recall line" to help you out. In my experience running investigations like these, oftentimes the invalidity of a claim comes to light very early. I would also recommend ensuring that you are doing everything you can to appease your employer as well including taking any sexual harassment training and also participating in any workshops that may be available (if available) to show that you're serious about your personal and professional integrity.

What other questions did you have for me today that I can help you out with:-)?

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Is it possible that I could lose my job over this? I admit to some of what I heard she has filed, but not all of it.

It's not likely that you would lose your job over this. Although lewd talk could be considered sexual harassment, the fact that the person has already left, has (presumably) never filed a complaint about this, and because there is evidence that this was just made to retaliate against you, the chances of you losing your job are extremely slim.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Well here is the deal. Her resignation actually goes into effect June 30. We are a school so our contracts are July 1 to June 30. She isn't actually gone yet. How do I prove this is retaliation?

You'll have to close the "logical gap" that exists. You could admit that you did discuss personal matters, but there was no indication that it made her uncomfortable, and that you strongly believe that her past performance review was the reason that she is quitting and the reason that she filed this claim. Really, it's the absence of prior complaints that can help you prove that there is no merit. Plus, if there are any other witnesses, that will help as well.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
There are two other witnesses. Like I said, I never talked to her in private. Does this hurt or help me?
Customer reply replied 23 days ago
She told another co worker that she told me on two occasions that she was uncomfortable but that is a lie.

Do you find that to be true?

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Find what to be true?
Customer reply replied 23 days ago
who is actually involved in a sexual harassment 'hearing?' She also told another co worker that there would be a hearing.

I'm sorry. I see that it was a lie. Has anyone else ever made any mention that it made them uncomfortable?

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
No one has ever acted like they were uncomfortable. It's not like I was telling them sexual acts. It was more like funny stories how my boyfriend grabs my gut when I am naked and makes my belly button talk.
Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Who is involved in the hearing?

I see what you mean. So, something like that would probably not even amount to sexual harassment to begin with, and unless everyone was absolutely terrified of you and afraid to tell you how they felt, it's highly improbable. Plus, with this teacher's lies, plus whatever lack of credibility they may have, it is likely this is going to end up going nowhere. When someone has been sexually harassed, there is often little doubt. It's just a matter of finding out what was said or done and when. In this case, the logical gap is too wide for this to go forward. It'll probably be your human resources team or whoever they assign to these kinds of discrimination cases. I bet it'll only be one person at most.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
What about her claim that these stories created a hostile environment? She also is threatening a reverse discrimination case because she says I favor a black staff member over her.

It's hard when someone is lobbing these kinds of allegations at you. The reason is because it's hard to disprove that this is the case, but it's important to keep in mind that the person making these allegations has the burden of proof. The administrators will do the investigation; however, if witnesses don't corroborate what the woman says, if no one else was made uncomfortable about your stories about your boyfriend, and if there is no other evidence (e.g. emails, text messages, video, etc.) to suggest this is the case, then it'll likely be dropped.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
But there ARE witnesses to the stories. Like I said I considered it 'girl talk'. Does this substantiate her claim of a hostile work environment?

I'm sorry. What I mean is that it's fine if you tell the stories, but if there aren't any witnesses who can corroborate any sexual harassment, then the case will dissipate. The law is meant to protect people working in hostile work environments. It doesn't contemplate people who are overly sensitive about certain matters. For instance, if someone said, "I had sex with my wife last night," it may not be super professional, but it doesn't create a hostile work environment. But if someone said, "Here's all the things I did with my wife in excruciating detail like it's a boys' locker room," then that's different. So the stories themselves aren't bad, it's the absence of harassment that is going to get this thing dropped.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Maybe my questions should have started with 'how does this constitute sexual harassment' in the first place?

Perhaps. The main issue here is that you can make those statements, but whether they amount to sexual harassment is a different story. This is why I feel confident in your ability to keep your job and that these claims are just ridiculous.

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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
They may be ridiculous but it is my reputation at stake. I have certainly learned a valuable lesson though. If I have other questions how do I contact you again?

For sure. I'll address that more below about getting in contact with me:

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Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10,210
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Customer reply replied 23 days ago
Thank you so much! I might actually be able to sleep tonight!!!

It's my pleasure!

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