Well, the news has been flooded with accusations, claims, and allegations by mostly women and a few men of sexual harassment, in the workplace, in entertainment and elsewhere.
As a woman who has experienced sexual harassment more times than I care to remember, it sickens me to think that anyone would make a false accusation of this kind. But, some people do. How do I know? Well, first of all, I have witnessed it. I have seen co-workers make accusations against other co-workers to get back at them for some imagined wrong. I have seen co-works grope other co-workers at their protest.
However, nothing sickens me more then what happened to my husband on November 20 something. After seeing a picture of a female co-worker on a company website, when he saw her at work, he calmly mentioned that it was a nice picture. Mind you, this was done in the presence of at least one witness. However, the co-worker went to HR and falsely accused him of grabbing her and making a sexually harassing comment.
Not only was this lie shocking (on many levels), but the actions of the company only served to compound the insult. They said they were doing an investigation, got both sides of the story and the statement from the witness (who said he did not remember anything like that happening) and spoke with their legal department.
The accused felt work early and was off the next day. On his day off, he received a call informing him that he was terminated. Shocking!
I have some questions: What were the results of the investigation? Was the investigation unbiased? Why wasn’t he allowed to see the evidence against him? What is going to happen to the co-worker who made this false complaint? Was she terminated, or praised for speaking up? Was there any consideration given to the accusation being false, especially since the witness did not remember anything like what was reported? Does the “he said, she said” always end in the man loosing his job, having a damaged reputation and having to start his life over? What is the burden of proof for something like this? Why is there no standardization for something so serious? How long does an investigation for something like this take? How many witnesses are questioned? Does the investigation also include the character of the accuser?
Yes, I am full of questions and this has always been the case for sexual harassment. Why? Because I have seen both sides, even before this incident. I am livid that anyone can make an accusation and ruin someone’s life. It doesn’t matter who it is, why it is done, what was done, where it’s done, how it’s done or when it’s done. Bottom line, it’s wrong.
The country is in the grips of a panic so great that we are almost afraid to breathe around co-workers or others for fear of repercussions in regard to sexual harassment allegations. It is getting to the point where a person, cannot be nice, or make a nice compliment without fear of accusations. Something has got to be done. There has got to be a level of standardization for accusations, proof and evidence.
Understand, as I mentioned, I have been a victim of sexual harassment more times than I can count. For this reason, it is important to me that this is no longer being swept under the rug and glossed over. I’m ecstatic that men and women are speaking up and that needs to continue, for legitimate offenses. No one should be subjected to this kind of behavior based on a lie. Those engaging in these acts should be punished.
And while, some will read this and get upset because I am speaking up for an accused man, they do not know all of the facts. I watch the news stories and read the articles about this issue and I often wonder if the accusations are legitimate. By this I mean, is there evidence or just a “she said, he said” situation. I also wonder how the evidence is gathered, what is considered evidence, what is the timeframe for investigations and more. I think about the fact that there are women who cross this line as well, but no one is really saying anything about that right now. The focus seems to be on men and I completely understand.
But, what if the accusation is false? What then? Will the men and women who make false accusations face criminal charges? If you file a false police report, there are repercussions and I feel it should be the same in this instance. After all, an accusation or allegation can destroy someone’s life. There should be consequences for persons making false charges. The justice system has protocols and procedures for false police reports, telling lies while under oath and more. This is no different and it is just as serious.
30-40 years ago when these things happened, you lived with it and didn’t say anything because of the laws and societal norms at the time. But, alas, things have changed. I applaud those who have suffered these crimes for speaking up. But, I abhor the false claims some have made. We see and hear about the famous and important people affected by this. But, there are many others caught up and suffering that do not make the news. What about their rights? Do they get ignored and mistreated even more because someone lied on them? Where is the fairness? I thought this was a country that had to prove you were guilty before you were punished. That is fast slipping away and it is sad to watch.
I realize that the issue of sexual harassment is touchy. I also realize that this is just the beginning of the process and there are still many things to be addressed. All, I’m saying is things need to be fair for the accuser and the accused, male and female, young and old, rich and poor and so on.
LJ Thomas is an author, CEO and host of a successful show. You can learn more about her at www.asoral.org.
LJ Thomas wears many hats, but her passions are literary consultant, editing and hosting her show, Purely Positive. She has several books in publication and has been writing over 35 years. She provides author services which are all listed on her website www.asoral.org. She has edited books for [...]