husband between a rock and a hard place.

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by gcvmom, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    husband had to fire someone a few weeks ago for failure to perform on the job, among other things. He resisted doing this for several months and kept trying to get his boss to give the guy another chance. But eventually, he just had to be let go.

    Well NOW the ex-employee has sent a letter to HR stating that he was wrongfully terminated. And he is now accusing husband of sexual harrassment, claiming that he overheard husband talking about his sex life and that it made him so uncomfortable that he had to put headphones on to avoid hearing the conversation(s). husband is telling me he has NO idea what the guy is talking about. I really want to believe that he didn't say anything inappropriate.

    He had to resend to HR all the documentation he had on the guy -- the problems with him just not showing up for work, taking extended lunches, coming and going whenever he pleased, missing critical deadlines repeatedly, not performing the job he was hired to do, etc.

    He's completely freaking out because he was told that if push came to shove, it would be easier to fire husband and settle a lawsuit than to let it go to court.

    I'm at a loss to understand this. I hope he's being honest with me. I hope there's no merit to any of the accusations. As far as I know it was an at-will arrangement, so the company can fire people at any time for any reason, as long as it's not illegal (ie discriminatory).

    But the more I read about sexual harassment lawsuits, the more the law looks to be structured to favor the accuser, and the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

    I hope this is just another case of husband catasrophizing and that NONE of this comes to pass...

    Just when my hair had stopped falling out...
  2. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    You and husband need to go and see a lawyer NOW. Not read online, not research yourself, go and talk to someone who deals with this. Get a SHARK.

    It sounds like the guy is spitting to see how the wind blows. It could be possible that he heard your husband say something and misunderstood (or chose to misunderstand) some of what is basic guy discussion.

    I am so sorry. Make SURE that the atty you see is husband's atty, NOT the company's. You may not have to fight this, or the co may not include husband much depending on the HR system, but regardless, husband needs his own atty. The company atty protects THE COMPANY. It is super easy to forget that, to trust the slick words because they are what you want to hear. So get an advocate for husband.
  3. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thanks Susie. I hadn't even thought of seeking counsel for him!
  4. Malika

    Malika Well-Known Member

    Sorry to hear about this difficult situation. Truly the world has gone bananas if overhearing a conversation about sex now constitutes "sexual harassment". I am sure it is good advice to get a lawyer for your husband and I hope this seemingly absurd case will never get off the ground.
  5. tiredmommy

    tiredmommy Site Moderator

    Tell him to save copies of everything: docs, emails, etc.
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    I'm confused....why would it be easier to fire husband instead of going to court? If that were to happen, husband is the one who would have a legitimate "wrongful termination" case...

    And employees claim "wrongful termination" all the time....and these cases go to court all the time...and 9 times out of 10 - they are pretty routine. Is it wrongful? Does the employer have documentation of the employee's job performance? Is the employee bringing a frivolous lawsuit? Case closed.
  7. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Another thing about sexual harassment - which I found out - is that the accuser must either ask the person to stop and it must continue, OR, they must speak to a supervisor about it.

    We had one of these a while back. When I was promoted up from secretary, the girl they hired in... Well, she dressed rather inappropriately. She worked for a lady and a man, and they discussed (I was still in the loop as I had a clearance and hers was pending, so I had to do some stuff), female boss asked me what to do, being as I was closer to the new girl's age. I offered to discuss company dress code. Was open and friendly about it. She was "cool", but nothing changed. Female boss spoke to her. Male boss and female boss together spoke to her with HR lady. Then... The young lady started not showing up for work, etc. and finally was terminated for job abandonment.

    About a year later she filed sexual harassment against both bosses, HR person and ME!!! But... We didn't even have to go to court. We did the affidavits & her lawyer came in & talked to me (being unionized helped) - and then she was advised to drop it.

    Moral: Thong undies that play tunes are not appropriate attire for a gov't office!!! (And they were not just apparent, she showed them off 'cause they were COOL!)
  8. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    More un-needed stress. Sorry you are dealing with this.
  9. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    Ditto what Susie and Daisy said. If your H is fired, he too would have a case. Seek counsel and document everything - keep copies for your file as many law firms are notorious for misplacing documents/notes. Also, have H obtain a current copy of the employee handbook. Even at will employers have a handbook with guidelines that everyone must follow and there is a section that covers sexual harrassment.

    Best of luck, I'm so sorry and I hope that H is just freaking out over what turns out to be nothing.
  10. DDD

    DDD Well-Known Member

    Fingers crossed that this goes nowhere. If your husband does not have good solid records already have him recreate the sequence of events leading up to the termination. Obviously it's best to have original notes but since these things can take a long time to reach a head...have him do his best to detail the past while it is still fresh in his memory. I haven't worked for a larger company in decades but I assume there are still procedures for advanced warnings etc. prior to letting someone go. Documenting before the memory fades is a valuable step for his self protection. Hugs. DDD
  11. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thank you ALL!

    I contacted a personal liability lawyer -- we'll see what they have to say. And I'll remind husband to gather copies for himself of EVERYTHING.
  12. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Step is right. When I worked for the State we used to have to take classes in this every year. They always tell you that the first step is to go directly to that person and tell them that their behavior is offensive to you and tell them to stop. If they do stop, that's it! It's over! If they don't stop the behavior, you file a complaint with management or HR or whoever does this in the organization. I'm assuming that this person never filed a complaint against your husband for sexual harrassment. If he never filed a complaint, he's got nothing! Technically, a complaint wouldn't be against your husband anyway, it would be against the company. If someone is being harassed by another employee, they file a complaint. It is then up to the company to address it. If the company handles the complaint and puts a stop to the situation, then that's it! They have no case! It was handled. Only if the company does nothing to address the offensive behavior and it continues, THEN the person has a justifiable complaint against the COMPANY for allowing the harassment to continue. Hopefully this will go nowhere.
  13. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    First of all, Step, OMG!!! Thongs that play music - shown off in an OFFICE??? and this girl thought she was wrongfully terminated????? O.M.G. My mind just boggles.

    Second - I hope that husband doesn't need his own atty, but I have seen people fired because someone else got fired and filed suit claiming this or that. So the company fires the person's boss to make the suit go away. it is stupid, it does leave the supervisor much room to sue, but it also happens. This is why gvc's husband needs his own atty and to keep GOOD records at home.

    It is quite common for all files to be seized and sent to the corporate atty after such action has been filed. husband MUST get his own copies BEFORE the head office does. NOT that a good co will set him up, but things get lost/misplaced/accidentally shredded by someone with an axe to grind. So keeping his own files is important. Make sure he has them AT HOME because the company CAN go and get them from husband's office at any time. Again, not likely but possible.
  14. AnnieO

    AnnieO Shooting from the Hip

    Um, Susie, yes. Yankee Doodle.
  15. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    To husband's knowledge, there has not been a complaint previous to the one coming from the ex-employee. HR has never brought him in for anything related to this kind of accusation.

    To me, this is clearly a case of sour-grapes and a desperate attempt at revenge/financial compensation. I told him to gather all the supporting documentation and make copies to keep here at home, so hopefully he's going to take care of that today.

    Trying not to worry too much and just take whatever steps are necessary to protect our family.
  16. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    OK - I happen to be an expert on this, unfortunately. Not by choice - AT ALL - but now I am. My case is still ongoing so I cannot divulge too much but I can tell you what I know objectively.

    First of all -- Do you live in an AT Will State? Most states are. If that is the case your husband is fine. You don't need a lawyer, and if they fire him over this, then he has a case, not the other person.

    Wrongful termination suits are EXTREMELY difficult to get through a court system - and most lawyers won't take them. The EEOC will take them IF the accusing party has documentation that the sexual harassment was reported to a supervisor, the behavior did not stop - AND - that they were terminated BECAUSE they reported the incident.

    Now if he is going to file for sexual harassment he has to have PROOF. And I mean documented, authentic proof. As in another person heard the same thing, and also reported it to a supervisor, or it was tape recorded, or written somehow.

    People go so crazy with all these willy nilly "lawsuits" and the fact of the matter is that they don't even hold up in court. There are laws to protect both companies and the employees - and from I have been through the laws protect more the employer than the employee. I am having to go through hades and back to "prove" what happened to me" - which is not fair - when so many other people knew and admitted it at the time. In your husband's case this bodes well for him. I would suggest that he consult the EEOC and talk to them about the laws that protect HIM, his company, etc. Not a lot of smaller companies know the laws - and it takes someone like your husband to remind them of his rights.

    So I would tell husband to stop freaking, and start researching and knowing the laws backwards and forwards. Then I would have him schedule a meeting with HR to go over said accusations, and his rights, and the fact that this man was terminated for the 95 pages of documentation husband has on him, period, nothing more.

    Good luck - PM me if you want. I literally have spent over 80+ hours researching this and talking to the EEOC. I can share more openly in a PM if you think that would be helpful. HUGS
  17. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    Thanks Steely. Yes, we are in an at-will state. And from what he's telling me, there was NO prior mention of any problem whatsoever until AFTER the other man was fired for performance issues. Not to husband's supervisor, not to HR either. From what little I've read so far, I agree that the laws are set up to protect the accuser AND the employer, but not the accused.

    I'm sure the guy is angry about being terminated. However, what I know of the case is that he had ample opportunity to correct the problems the company had with his performance and for whatever reason chose to do nothing about changing his behavior. I guess it's another fine example of someone feeling entitled and taking no personal responsibility for the outcome of their choices in life.
  18. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    Try not to worry. If this man never filed a complaint while he was employed and didn't decide that he had been "harassed" until after his termination, he doesn't have a leg to stand on! This will get absolutely nowhere!
  19. Steely

    Steely Active Member

    Well, there aren't really any laws for the "accused" because they are protected by the employer. No one wants to sue an individual, there is not money in that. They aren't really after husband, they are after revenge and the companies money. For instance, the people in my situation, may or may not ever receive a consequence - it is the company that will - if things work out to my advantage. The company may then terminate those employees, or not -- I am still amazed that the 2 people in my company are still there after all the accusations many have made towards them - but they still are. Tell husband this is his companies problem, not his, and he can relax.
  20. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    Steely, thanks for letting us know more. I know what I know from some things that happened years ago. Sadly, if the company ends up paying out to make it go away, often they blame someone in the company and fire them or set them up to be fired. ugly, but it happens and is what I worry about. I am very sorry you are having to deal iwth all of this.