Wednesday, July 03, 2019

What It's Like to be Falsely Accused of Improper Conduct

This is a post I wrote last September, but never published. It was written during the Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings. I actually wrote more than one version of the post but ultimately decided not to publish it to make sure that there was no way it could possibly cause me any trouble with my job. Well, things have changed. My plan to retire in July 2020 was accepted by my school's board of trustees. And, much to my delight, I found out today that the woman who is the subject of this post is now no longer employed by the  school. I will happily buy some donuts for my co-workers Monday morning to celebrate.

With this as some background information, I now present the post I wrote last September.

Disclaimer: I am in no way suggesting that Brett Kavanaugh is innocent (or guilty) of the actions of which he is being accused. I have no direct information on which to make an informed opinion at this time. I also in no way wish to minimize the pain that women who have been sexually assaulted have had to suffer. I only wish to present a true event that reaffirms the need to not just believe (or disbelieve) a story based only on a person's gender without some type of substantial evidence.

I have worked nearly my entire adult life in higher education, often in administrative positions that involved supervisory responsibility. As I near retirement, I consciously decided to no longer take on an administrative role, but instead to enjoy my last months before I move on. Although there are many gratifying aspects of being a supervisor responsible for the effort of an area or department, I and others who have done so will likely tell you about the most challenging part of the job: personnel management.

Now I have to tell you, when it comes to work behavior, I am not exactly a company guy. I am not afraid to speak my mind to administration, I am brutally honest, I rebel against things I think are stupid or unreasonable, I relish in being a non-conformist. But aside from this, I am pretty much a boy scout when it comes to unsavory behavior. People who know me know this.

I was recently head of my department for a five year period. I supervised several professional employees, most of whom were heavily covered and supported by unions. Disciplinary processes and procedures for one union were extensive and specific. The good thing about that: good employees were amply protected. The bad thing: poor employees were also amply protected.

One employee in my area was just a poor employee. When I began my term, I had many things to fix. One of these was this employee's job description, which was poorly written and allowed her to essentially manipulate things so that she did little work while being paid for full-time employment. Once her job description was amended, she continued to exhibit poor work habits. She hid in her office and sometimes refused to do work she was obligated to do. She had no problem lying to cover things up. I had to discipline her under the union progressive discipline guidelines. And then things started to happen.

It began with emails to me that read along the lines of "lightning, you frighten me so sometimes. You are usually so nice to people, but you have been scaring me. I would like to resolve this issue." When her emails were getting her nowhere, she decided to up the ante after being disciplined for not doing her assigned work and lying about it. She went to Human Resources and told them that I has slapped her on her ass! Human Resources, of course, had to investigate this claim. And until the day I die, I will not forget the day that the director said "lightning, I need to ask you this: Did you slap this employee on her rear end?" And I had to say " No, I absolutely did not do this nor have ever touched this employee in any way, shape, or form." Very uncomfortable and somewhat humiliating. 

Now fortunately for me, HR had dealt with this employee previously and knew of her manipulative and lying ways. So the director chose an interesting way to deal with this: she told the employee that if this was true, the employee, now that she alleged this, had to go all the way with this and lodge a formal complaint that would be investigated. The employee then asked for paid time off to write this up and was given, from the head of HR, a complete paid day off to write up her complaint! I was told that my employee would not be in the next day so that she could be paid to stay home and write up her lies against me!

Well guess what? The employee took the day off, came back to work the day after, and informed HR that she decided not to follow through with her complaint. Looking back, I wish my life had not been so full of complicated work issues and family issues that I didn't have the time nor the energy to possibly seek some sanction against the employee. And I had to keep in mind that she was still in my area and I would be responsible for supervising her after her false claim, which was personally extremely difficult. And in dealing with this, I had to just go on with my job and without everyone, save one person in the department that the employee confided in, knowing what had happened.

I grew up a religious person and spent my life trying to do the right things. Dealing with my anger over this has not been easy. When horrendous things were happening at work and things in my personal life became very challenging, I just seethed over this. It is several years in the past now, but not forgotten.

I fear for the future when I hear biased politicians, talking heads and commentators of the day espousing themes like "men are bad" and "women should always be believed." Has a significant percentage of our population really gotten that stupid and rigid? Hey thundering 36 -- is that spare room in Australia still available? You might get a boarder.

Thanks for reading.  


Blogger JT88Keys said...

When I was 21 I actually lost a job because of a false accusation of sexual harassment. The girl actually had a grievance with my team leader who was the only other male on our team and I think drug me in just because he and I were friends. The leadership of the company and HR did about 4 hours of investigating starting about 8 am and nobody corroborated her story, but both of us were fired just after lunch.

The state EEOC was called in to investigate because she was going to try to profit from the accusations too. They took almost a year to complete their investigation and we were both exonerated and they said she should have been dismissed for making a false accusation.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Lester said...

Ouch..... In the mid 90s I did one stint as a manager and swore to never do it again. I can fix computers but chose to never again fix people problems. Suffice it to say if in any situation any place a woman tells you that you are making her not feel safe get far, far away from her. In all my years i have never seen a man working in HR. Wonder why......

11:15 PM  
Blogger lightning36 said...

@JT - Wow - that really sucked. At least in my case HR knew what a liar she is. She hung on for so long being a lazy and terrible employee. I can't believe they canned you. Of course, that was some time ago. Still sucks.

@Lester - HR head used to be a guy years ago. Now the office is all female. Supervising people just sucks the energy right out of you. I was always way too easy, thinking that positivity would make people work harder/better.

11:20 AM  

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