Harassment and assault are common in workplaces across the US, and victims are quick to take action. HR departments and authorities take such cases more seriously these days. Even as most complaints are genuine, false accusations are a reality.
A false allegation of workplace assault can hit you hard because it deprives you of employment and tarnishes your reputation. Even worse, you may have to struggle to land a decent job again. It is vital to know your rights and take a stand if you face such a situation because the right approach can save your job and reputation. Here is some advice on handling such a situation.
Cooperate With The Investigation
When you face a false accusation for something as serious as sexual assault, you are bound to be overwhelmed. It is easy to lose your cool and make efforts to defend your name. The first reaction will be to stonewall the investigation process, but it is the last thing you must do. If you are innocent and the investigators are unbiased, the checks will work in your favor and bring out the truth. It makes sense to cooperate with them and share the truth and facts when they question you.
Hire An Attorney To Guide And Represent You
The allegations of assault are serious, and you will need to defend yourself even when not guilty. Hiring a specialist who knows the law of the jurisdiction is your best bet. Find an attorney in your local area so that they are easy to get hold of and will guide you about the right steps considering the laws applicable in your state/country.
Since sexual assault is a criminal offense, you will also need to have an attorney to help you through the questioning and represent you in court if the case proceeds there.
Gather Evidence To Prove Your Innocence
Your lawyer will ensure that you have a solid defense strategy when defending yourself in the court. Everything boils down to the evidence you can present to validate your innocence. Discuss every possibility with the attorney, no matter how significant it may seem. For example, screenshots of any piece of information that shows your innocence help. You can request co-workers to testify as a witness in your favor. Even small evidence can save your skin, so make sure that you miss out on nothing.
Consider A Defamation Lawsuit
A false accusation of sexual misconduct is a serious matter, and you should not let it go lightly. If a co-worker accuses you without any reason, it is libel or slander. Both are forms of defamation if someone does it intentionally to harm your reputation. Discuss the option of filing a defamation lawsuit against the responsible person. Your lawyer will recommend it if you have a solid case because defamation is unlawful.
Dealing with unfounded allegations of sexual assault is daunting because one mistake can land you in deep trouble. It is best to have a legal professional showing the way and doing everything needed to salvage your reputation.