Steps to follow when your employee is falsely accusing you of harassment or discrimination


Both harassment and discrimination at work are two alarming phenomena that may occur during the development of labor relations.

Such behavior must be severely sanctioned when it occurs in a company because nobody is allowed to submit another human being to a humiliating, unjust or degrading treatment. Most of the complains of this kind are not real.

However, increasingly more employees complain that are victims of harassment in the workplace or subject to discriminatory treatment in order to obtain illegal benefits from the employer.

These complains are made especially when exist misunderstandings between the person who is accusing such behaviors and the superior or another co-worker, the complaint is usually used as an instrument of revenge or when exist the premises to a labor contract ending in order to be used in a potential lawsuit against employer.

These cases of false accusations are very dangerous because it exist the risk that this problem fall into disuse and the real accusations will be treated superficially.

Also, false accusations can damage the working environment, straining atmosphere with repercussions on productivity. False accusations can negatively influence the behavior of other employees by creating an environment unsuitable for the proper conduct of the business. Therefore, the accusations of discrimination, true or false, should be treated with utmost seriousness and responsibility, to avoid the undesirable effects of a conviction, even more because the allegations are not true.


From our experience, we had managed to outline some steps that we recommend to follow those accused of harassment / discrimination when the accusations are baseless:

  1. Treat seriously the problem.

Any accusation of harassment or discrimination is a serious threat and can jeopardize the good name of the person claimed. Even if, after the research it is found that you have been wrongly accused, in public opinion will long remain etched on charges of harassment, the image of “harassing” following his long hover over a person accused of harassment.

As the person accused of harassment is known or occupy higher job, for him it will be harder to get rid of this burden.

You must not expect for things to become too serious to take a position on the accusations brought against you.


  1. Consult a specialist.

Every step you do once you have been accused of harassment must be well planned.

You need to ask a specialist who, through experience, can recommend the best option to tackle the issue in your case.

It is very important to plan a strategy and follow it when you have to answer to the accusations of harassment or discrimination. Because everything you say can be used against you.


  1. Avoid any interaction with the claimant.

Avoid any possible interaction with your accuser. If for various reasons you can`t avoid such meeting, discuss only what is absolute necessary and only the issues not related to the situations complained. Require to the superior to send to the meeting with the hustler some co-workers to participate in order to avoid unpleasant situations that can lead to new charges.


  1. Carefully analyze each accusation

Together with the specialist, to who is advisable to call, analyze the charges brought against you.
Do not treat superficial the accusations and try to find arguments against to every charge.

It`s advisable to prepare the contra-arguments and put them at the disposal of the institutions that could investigate the complaint (senior management, National Council for Combating Discrimination, ITMĀ  or the court).

You must expect the applicant to procure documents which refer to harassment or discrimination, documents made by various independent organizations. In practice the most common is the “Certificate discriminated/harassed” document without any legal value which can put pressure on the accused person.

Such documents are not based on any concrete analysis of the situation, being issued on application, leaving no way for the person accused of harassment or discrimination to expose his views.


  1. Do not apologize

If you’re not guilty of the charges brought, do not apologize.

It is not advisable to apologize to the accuser. Excuses can be interpreted as an admission of guilt and, if they can be proven, surely will be used against you.

If you are not guilty of acts of harassment does not make sense to excuse for your behavior just to settle a dispute or to improve the status of the complainant.

Do not apologize verbally or through correspondence, even if at the discussion does not attend any other person.

Surely the discussion will be recorded and even though it will not be made public, it will reach the persons empowered to investigate the accusations.


  1. Take care what you say and to who you say. Surely you will be registered.

If the meetings with the accuser can`t be avoided, you must pay attention what you say. Surely these discussions will be recorded, the accuser will try to fabricate evidence to use later, in this case he will seek to provoke you.

Keep calm and avoid addressing topics related to the allegations of harassment.

It is advisable that any discussion with the accuser to take place in the presence of several people, thus being discouraged in provoke you.

Make sure that the discussions are held calmly and those present could hear what you say in order to leave no room for speculation.

Remember, the accuser will try to produce evidence in his favor. In front of the authorities (National Council for Combating Discrimination – “CNCD”) or the court where he can invoke any evidence, including audio and video recordings.


  1. Try to talk with your colleagues, ask them a point of view and make sure they are willing to support you.

Do not avoid to talk about the facts that you are criticized.

As soon as you find out that you are accused of harassment require a point of view of the colleagues who have knowledge of the facts complained, asking them to describe their point of view and how they perceive the situation.

Search for allies and try to find out if other colleagues have been accused in the past by the same accuser for similar acts.

You might discover that you’re not the first person targeted by the accuser.


  1. Recall every interaction with the accuser – think about what has happened and who else was present at the discussions.

Try to remember each meeting or interaction with the accuser and when happened so-called facts of harassment or discrimination. Try to recall as many details as possible and try to remember other people who have witnessed the incident and who could make a valid point of view.

If you memorize more details you surely have chances to sustain relevant defenses against the accusations brought to you.


  1. Do not count on the fact that you are being unjustly accused. The principle of innocence until proven guilty does not work in such cases.

According to article 20 paragraph (6) and article 27 paragraph (4) of the O.G. no. 137/2000 on preventing and sanctioning all forms of discrimination, the interested person shall present facts from which may be presumed existence of direct or indirect discrimination and the person against whom they filed the complaint rests the burden of proving that there has been a violation of the principle of equal treatment.

In other words, in matters of discrimination and harassment is not working the presumption of innocence, the accused person has to prove his innocence. To accuse of harassment and discrimination is extremely easy with favorable legislation for the complainant. More difficult is to prove your innocence.

Incidentally there is a proverb that describes the situation of the defendant and what he must endure to prove his innocence: “a crazy man throw a stone into water and 100 wise struggle to get her out.”

Unfortunately, CNCD consider and solve complaints that, except the accusations against a person do not contain any evidence (or the beginning of the proof) to support the charges.


  1. Do not hesitate to provide any information or evidence to support your innocence in case of an investigation

Considering all the facts presented, it is important in case of an investigation to inform the institutions charged with dealing with complaints, to provide all relevant information and necessary evidences to combat every accusation of harassment or discrimination.

Remember, in the investigations of harassment or discrimination, the complainer must defend, answer to all charges, prove his innocence, most often being convicted before the hearings.

You must know that, in general, accusations of discrimination or harassment will be analyzed very subjective in Romania because doesn`t exist enough staff specialized in accusations of harassment or discrimination.

The fact that we don`t have enough qualified staff is well known, but is also famous the procedure before the College NCCD, which is particularly strange, deprived from strict rules, for example we have a case from 2009 in which College CNCD considered the testimony of witnesses interviewed by telephone a valid sample.

Unfortunately, numerous incorrect penalties given for non-existent facts of harassment or discrimination have an emotional impact among organization and among employees who, knowing the real situation lose confidence in the ability of the authorized institutions to judge correctly.

Perhaps this is one reason for which CNCD never appear between the institutions in which people trusts.