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  1. #1
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    Jul 2008
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    Exclamation False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    My question involves labor and employment law (specifically sexual harassment) for the state of: Idaho

    In brief: I was called into my store director's office during my shift on july 2nd by my store director. My store director and another store manager were waiting for me in his office. My store director proceeded to tell me that one of our baggers (technically my subordinate) had come to him and told him that I had been tickling him and that he was uncomfortable with it. He went on to warn me that it could be considered sexual harassment and that if it continued that it would follow that course of action. I laughed due to my close relationship with this bagger, we consider each other as brothers or "bro's". I asked if he was kidding and was told he was not and that this could be serious. I then told him that I would never do anything that would cause my bro to be uncomfortable, and that I was confused due to my bro never indicating that poking him in the side caused him to be uncomfortable especially since he does it to me all the time and was the one who started it.

    I was dismissed from the director's office and then later that night called my bro after texting with him via cell phone. He was thoroughly confused about the situation and told me that he had never even spoken with the director about any of what I had been told. Over a phone call that night the following situation was told to me by my bro:

    I walked up to my bro after I clocked off and gave him a squeeze on his side and told him I was leaving. A female checker saw this and told the night manager on duty that night that I had tickled my bro and he was uncomfortable with it. The night manager then took that to my store director the next day. The night manager then came up to my bro later that day and told him to not be angry with her or the female checker and then told him what they had done. My bro was annoyed and told her that he was confused because he tickled me too so why would he be uncomfortable with me tickling him. Furthermore, he told her that he never said that he was uncomfortable and was not happy that she had told the director otherwise. My bro told me that he thought that this situation was rediculous and couldn't believe they still approached me about it when he told the night manager this was not the case.

    Being dismayed, stressed and afraid this false accusation would spread I acted quickly the next day. I approached my director, asked to speak with him and went into his office. I began to explain what my bro had told me. I also had remembered a discussion I had with the female checker before she made the accusation. It follows:

    I was talking to another employee about trying to switch shifts with her later that week. This female checker walked in and invited herself into the conversation, remarking how she could plan two months ahead of time and so on. I remained polite, saying that that was cool but this was a last minute thing. She continued to tell me how she could still plan and make things work and so I told her that I was not asking her for her help. I told her the reason was because I knew I would receive this attitude and that I frankly didn't appreciate it. I then got up and walked out of the breakroom.

    The director seemed surprised that my bro was not the one who had made the accusation and that he was not aware that it came from the female checker. He also said it seemed that it could have been done in spite. I explained to him how this could effect any career or, since I have a passion for helping young people, it could effect that as well, not to mention that the accusation was unfounded. He remarked that he understood and would "squash" the situation immediately.

    Over the proceeding days and week both the female checker and the night manager treated me in a way that I felt as if I was still guilty of doing something perverse. The night manager nor the female checker never said anything about the situation but, at least with the night manager, there had never been this awkward hostility. I thought it best not to try and address the situation directly with either the night manager or the female checker as I was/am unaware of how the process was suppose to be handled and assuming my director had done his job correctly.

    On july 10th, when my director returned from a 7 day vacation, I again went to his office and asked to speak with him regarding the matter. He didn't even ask me to come in and had a produce manager in the office as well. I asked him about the status of the situation and he remarked he had been on vacation for seven days and that he thought that the situation was resolved. When I told him of the awkwardness he remarked he thought it was all "water under the bridge." I told him of a conversation that I had with my bro's mom who told me that she was extremely upset at the situation and couldn't believe the female checker would do such a thing. I told the director that I would like the situation documented simply for my protection, that I didn't want this false acusation to come back at any point to have a false representation of me. He said his first step would be to speak with my bro (he still hadn't talked to my bro about the situation!!) and we would go from there. I then mentioned that depending on how things are with the female checker and night manager that a mediation might be a good idea. He got this offended look on his face and said his first step is to talk to my bro.
    Meanwhile the produce manager was standing in the office, so it seems to me that my director doesn't view this as a big deal.

    My apologies for this being so long but I thought details would help! I know this can't be considered legal counsel but what should I do here?
    Should I involve anyone at the corporate level, going above my director's head?
    Is there any repercussions for the female checker for making this false accusations?
    What do I need to do to protect myself?

    A thousand thank you's for your help!!

  2. #2
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    I apologize in advance for not reading every detail.

    That being said, employers are not courts of law. They do not have the same necessity to gather evidence and proof as to crime and accusation.

    In fact, many times an employer has been successful sued for not taking action when just this sort of rumor is known.

    You can plead your case to higher ups if you wish. I would not be optimistic about your chances.

    May I assume you are not related to your "bro" by blood?

  3. #3
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    Jul 2008
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    Default Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    Thank you for your response.

    Yes, you are correct. He is not my blood brother, just a close friend who is like a brother.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    Then, in the future, take this as a lesson learned.

    Workplaces are not your home or school. Keep your hands to yourself.

  5. #5
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    Lightbulb Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    Again, much obliged.

    Are there any other thoughts from anyone on this matter. I have found the more educated thoughts, the better.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    It would help if you told us what you were trying to accomplish.

    There is no law that would make your manager or company put something in your file with your side of the story.

    There is no law that would make your manager or company reschedule people that you think are giving you the stink eye...

    I don't know what you want to happen. Do you want the other people fired? You and you bro were touching each other inappropriately in a workplace and someone was offended by it.

    Do you want THAT person disciplined?

    What do you want? What monetary damages have you suffered? You haven't been fired or suspended... you haven't been disciplined.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2008
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    Question Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    Well. In reality I just want to be protected by making sure this is handled the proper way.

    Inappropriately?? He is a close friend of mine and we are both younger. I'm sorry if some people get old and don't joke around with each other but most of us there do. It was not offensive to her, it appears she was only doing it because she was mad at me. You may have missed that part of the text.

    Again, I am only making sure I am handling this correctly.

    I would believe that you would "advise" me to let it just be swept under the rug as well.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    You haven't suffered any negative impact from this action or their actions.

    You cannot sue for what may happen someday. You cannot force a business to do something without suing.

    My advice to you would be to avoid behavior that may cause repercussions later on.

    So far, your defense of your actions is that it is what younger people do, eveyone else is older, and no one should have been offended.

    That is not an excuse I would want to try in front of a future employer.

  9. #9
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    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: False Accusation of Sexual Harassment by Third Party

    And as for your last comment.

    Yes, I would advise you to let it go. If you don't, eventually your manager will just have enough of this and fire you.

    You can talk your way into a termination, and it is perfectly legal.

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