What If You Are Falsely Accused of Sexual Harassment?
When you’re accused of sexual harassment and you believe you are innocent, it can feel like boarding a rollercoaster. Whether there is a misunderstanding at the heart of the false claim, or whether the accuser has a malicious or self-serving agenda, even if you maintain your innocence, the conflict can continue and even worsen. People who are at the center of false claims often find it hard to shake the association between the accusation and their names. If you believe you have been falsely accused of sexual harassment, the first thing to do is to seek the assistance of someone who can help you reduce conflict. Mediation is a private process that can lead to a binding or non-binding agreement. The mediator is a completely neutral third party. A mediator can also have expertise in the area of the conflict (for example in the academic or tech world), and can even be known to the two parties. Mediation doesn’t stop at the boundaries of the mediation session, it can begin with a consultation and meetings with one or both parties. Your attorney, board-members or trustees can also be part of the process if necessary. Mediation should be sought early on to diffuse and contain conflict before it damages your reputation. It can also signal a willingness to be fair and to listen to the accuser’s side of the story.
How and Where False Claims of Sexual Harassment Happen
False claims of sexual harassment can happen in any situation where there is a lot of interaction between people at work. In academia for example where positions are scarce, professional competition and the pressures of work may result in conflicts that can lead to false claims. False claims of sexual harassment can also arise in highly cooperative work environments where personal and professional relationships are closely intertwined. Some work environments have a highly social and networking component, and boundaries between professional and personal relationships can become blurred leading to conflict. False claims of sexual harassment can happen to anyone of any gender or sexual orientation.
What Next When You’re Falsely Accused of Sexual Harassment?
When you have been falsely accused of sexual harassment it might be tempting to grasp at the first option within reach to resolve the conflict. You might attempt to work it out with your accuser by calling them or arranging a private meeting. Taking conflict into your own hands is not advisable, however. You might also finding yourself venting to a colleague, or you might immediately call your lawyer and prepare for a fight. You might assume that because you are innocent you have nothing to lose. Unfortunately, this generally isn’t the case. Investigations within institutions can be inconclusive, biased and leave a permanent mark on your record. In court, it is difficult to find conclusively in favor of one side in sexual harassment cases. If you choose litigation you are gambling with your career and reputation. The financial cost can be huge, not to mention the cost in time and interruptions to your schedule.
Protect Your Reputation and Choose Mediation
Would you risk your reputation? Mediation helps you resolve conflict without causing irreparable damage to your reputation. Other dispute resolution mechanisms, such as going along with an internal investigation by your company or academic institution, or choosing to litigate, subject you to arbitrary procedures in which you lose control of the process. A trial is public, so details of your personal life may be revealed. The following are just a few of the reasons you should choose mediation to resolve false claims of sexual harassment:
- Less risk to your reputation – Mediation is a completely private process that allows parties to work out their dispute in a series of sessions where the parties can be separate or work out their issues together in the same room. It is not public like a trial, or necessarily overseen by colleagues or Human Resources departments (though it can involve a number of interested parties). At Boileau Conflict Solutions, we use mediation to discover parties’ different and common interests. When parties have ownership over an agreement they are more likely to honor it. In false claims of sexual harassment you can work with your accuser to uncover their perspective and reasons for bringing the claim. If you can do this in a neutral environment, you may be able to turn conflict into cooperation and/or limit the damage to both of you.
- Neutral and fair third party – Mediators are trained as neutral third parties who can resolve disputes between two or more parties. Mediators are not judges, arbiters, colleagues or disciplinary boards. They are disinterested in the conflict, they are not a part of the legal system. They are facilitators not decision-makers. They can observe the situation from outside the sphere of professional politics or the structures of the law. They empower parties to work towards a constructive solution.
- Damage limitation and protection of important relationships within a professional environment – In our mediation practice, we adapt our conflict resolution strategy to the needs of the conflict and use approaches from psychoanalysis to attack the roots of conflict and heal damaged relationships. Grievances in closely connected professional environments can have far-reaching consequences to both parties, and can even cause divisions outside the conflict. Healing conflict allows people to continue with their professional lives and repair professional and personal relationships if desired.
- Expert mediators who understand the conflict – Mediators can be chosen who have experience within your industry or technical expertise in an area related to your profession. A mediator with this kind of knowledge can be cognizant of the kind of pressures both parties are exposed to, and work towards a solution that keeps people in their jobs or suggests avenues of restorative justice, reinstatement of reputation or institutional reform.
Our Unique Approach
We are mediators and negotiators who approach dispute resolution using a unique synthesis of methods. With backgrounds in psychoanalysis, finance and the law, we draw on communications theory, game theory, psychoanalysis and the law to analyze disputes and facilitate dispute resolution. When parties feel secure that their interests are understood they can own the outcome and move beyond conflict. In highly charged conflicts like sexual harassment mediations, we tailor the mediation style to the conflict in the most sensitive manner. We are adept in resolving conflicts that are complex at an organizational level, or structural level within the community. Preparation, thorough analysis and agreements to commit to the process underpin our mediation process, so you can be confident that your mediation will resolve to the satisfaction of all parties.
Call Us Today To Schedule A Free Consultation 415-915-6341