Law Office Of Michael G. O’Neill, The Types of Cases We Handle
False Allegations of Sex Harassment and Domestic Violence

The potential client worked for a large organization, and his wife worked for the same organization in the same capacity. Think Federal Express (not the company in question, but to give you the picture.) According to potential client, his wife was having an affair, and made false allegations of harassment to keep husband away from her, to prevent him from discovery the affair. This led to many complications involving the workplace, job assignments, etc. Husband was frustrated, because he was bearing the brunt of the inconvenience, while the wife, who in the eyes of the husband was not only guilty of infidelity but also of lying and manipulating rules about harassment and workplace behavior to further her personal agenda. He wanted to know what he could do.

Cases like this are almost always without a satisfactory resolution. Although it is a given that I accept everything told to me by a potential client as true, there are two sides to every story, and it is invariably impossible to present unequivocal evidence about who is right and who is wrong. From the employer's point of view, it has two employees with a personal issue that has spilled over to the workplace, and the last thing that the employer wants is to take sides. On the other hand, there are laws protecting individuals against sexual harassment and discrimination based on domestic violence, but no laws protecting employees against false allegations of sexual harassment or domestic violence, so the employee alleging harassment or domestic violence has the advantage, because if the employer wants to protect itself against a claim that it discriminated against the employee making those allegations.

Although it is highly unfair, sometimes the best course of action is for the innocent party subjected to false accusations to remove himself from the situation, by requesting a transfer to a different location or to request to be kept away from the offending party.

Legal remedies are problematic. One theory would be to sue the employer for gender based discrimination, on the theory that the employer automatically credits the female and automatically discredits the males in situations such as this, but the courts are sympathetic to employers caught in this situation, who make the "damned if you do, damned if you don't" argument. It is possible to sue the person making false allegations individually, but they are unlikely to be financially able to respond, and they would also have a qualified privilege defense on the theory that they have the right to make good faith complaints of sex harassment or domestic violence without fear of being sued.

In other words, there is almost never a clear cut winner in these situations.



Back to Case Capsules