Do I Have a Right to See What Someone Has Accused Me of in Writing in the Workplace?
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An allegation of workplace misconduct can mar an otherwise pristine personnel file and make ascending the ranks at work difficult to impossible. It's important to be proactive when facing such an allegation, including emphasizing your innocence and reviewing all pertinent workplace documentation of the alleged incident. Arming yourself with information is your best defense against false accusations in the workplace.
Request Personnel File
Request a copy of your personnel file to review the accusations made by the accuser and ensure no other negative notations exist in the file without your knowledge. Any human resources staff member should be able to make a copy of these records for you and shouldn't deny your request; you have the right to review these records as you see fit, unless laws in your state dictate otherwise. Reviewing the charges against you can help you prepare a strategy to refute the allegations and avoid disciplinary action.
Request Investigation Report
Your employer has a duty to conduct a thorough internal investigation of the allegations against you, including conducting interviews with you and your accuser separately to gain a full range of perspective on the indictment. You may request a copy of your employer's findings from the investigation so you may prepare a formal rebuttal to the accusations. According to San Fransisco attorney Arkady Itkin, failing to file a formal rebuttal is not a critical error, but it may make your employer believe you agree with the accusations if you don't put up a vehement denial.
Keep All Relevant Communications
From the moment you're first informed of workplace misconduct allegations against you, save all workplace communications relating to the matter. You might get lucky and receive email or cell phone text messages from your accuser relating to the matter, including proof that the allegations are false. Presenting copies of this information to your employer can expunge the accusations from your record and may help you win a defamation of character lawsuit against your accuser if the allegations were particularly serious.
No Contact With Accusers
Under no circumstances should you initiate contact with your accuser, including seeking out your accuser for a first-hand explanation of misconduct allegations. To ensure no contact happens, your employer may require you take a leave of absence while the investigation is in process. Continue to monitor your work phone or email for information related to the allegations, but otherwise comply with your employer's request. Maintain a positive attitude and avoid any angry outbursts -- this will work in your favor and help you exhibit an air of innocence.
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Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.