Do unfounded complaints constitute harassment?

One of my employees quit two months ago, and filed a complaint to HR (5 pages) about me, completely unfactual. She then had a friend file a complaint about me a month later. Her friend was from a different department and quit over 6 months ago. Is this harassment? They have absolute no evidence to support their claims.

Posted  05-11-2011

Ann Kiernan replies:

I can certainly understand that you feel harassed by these complaints, but from what you write, it does not sound like illegal harassment. To be illegal, harassment must involve sexual or discriminatory behavior (based on race, sexual orientation, religion, age, etc.), but you do not mention anything of the sort.

Have you suffered any job consequences as a result of these complaints? If so, you may want to consult a local lawyer to learn about your rights, since making false statements that harm your reputation is defamation. However, in considering whether to start litigation, be aware that these ex-employees probably do not have the money to pay any judgment you might be awarded.

Good luck.


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About the Author:

Ann Kiernan has litigated claims of wrongful discharge and discrimination before state and federal courts and administrative matters before the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights, the National Labor Relations Board and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, representing both employers and employees. Ms. Kiernan co-hosted The Employee Rights Forum, a weekly radio call-in show reaching up to a half-million listeners in the New York metropolitan area, and her articles on employment law have been published in many books and magazines. Both as a firm partner and as a director, Ms. Kiernan gained solid experience in management and human resources compliance. She has worked with Fair Measures since 1997.