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I was just told by an acquaintance that an incoming intern at my company was apparently suspended for college for sexual harassment, and has been on leave for the last semester and the current semester. The acquaintance provided pictorial evidence to show that the allegations of suspension are in fact true. I believe that this intern lied to HR and told them that he was taking time off to travel, and I do not believe that the HR is aware of the suspension, as we generally do not ask for transcripts or other information from the school itself. What should I do in this situation?

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    This feels suspicious to me. Is there a criminal record? – enderland Feb 14 '18 at 22:08
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    @enderland at a college for sexual harassment? Doubtful. More likely a title 9 Kangaroo court. – Retired Codger Feb 14 '18 at 22:15
  • Do you or your acquaintance have any proof? – Isaiah3015 Feb 14 '18 at 22:24
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    The question is very dangerously unclear: does "pictorial evidence to show that the allegations of suspension are in fact true" merely mean "Yes he is suspended" or "Yes I personally saw verifiable evidence of the actual alleged harassment (presumably texts, emails or photos)"? Remember it's possible to be suspended on the basis of an uncorroborated allegation ("title 9 kangaroo court") – smci Feb 15 '18 at 12:53
  • I would be careful of making any decisions due an allegation of misconduct of any type, unless, there is a criminal record associated with that behavior. If you suspect they lied about the time off, press that issue, ask for proof. Make that the reason you pull the offer. Even if the college confirms this story, unless the student was found guilty, I would make any decisions based on that information. Students make bad decisions when given a choice between two bad choices with regards to a student conduct board. – Donald Feb 17 '18 at 14:31
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This is a dilemma. On the one hand, you don't want gossip and rumours to squash someone's career before it even starts. On the other, you don't want there to be trouble, and to know you were in a position to prevent a problem, yet you stayed quiet. And you're not able, by training or authority, to investigate the truth of the matter. Luckily, you have people for that: HR.

The furthest I would go with this is to tell HR:

This may just be gossip, but I was told that X is in fact suspended from college at the moment. If that's relevant to the internship program, I suggest contacting the college to confirm it.

And then NEVER FOLLOW UP. Let HR take whatever steps need to be taken and stay out of it. It's not your job to evaluate "pictorial evidence" or the like. You are not able to establish either the truth, or your company policy on this matter. HR may be told by the college that the intern is in good standing. Or they may feel that being suspended from college doesn't disqualify interns. Or they may withdraw the internship. Whatever. Not your problem. You've told them what you know, which isn't much, and that's your part of it over and done with.

If the intern ends up working in your group, try not to spread rumours. I can guess you would want to protect your co-workers, but that is not something a whisper network does well, especially when you don't have any relevant details that someone could use to evaluate whether a particular situation is a vulnerable one or not. Examples: did the student allegedly harass a woman or a man? Was it a case of saying things in a group setting, or physically assaulting someone in private? If you don't know, how can you be helpful?

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    +1 this is what I was trying to articulate but couldn't put into words. – enderland Feb 14 '18 at 22:24
  • This misses the point. "X is suspended from college at the moment" says nothing about sexual harassment, (whether alleged or proven). – smci Feb 15 '18 at 1:45
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    I think it's unlikely that the employer will retract an internship if you're suspended for sexual harassment, but not for cheating, stealing, setting fire to a dorm or mistreating the animals in the science labs, @smci. But if that is the case, and the college confirms the student is suspended, HR can ask the prospective intern to prove the suspension reason in order to keep the internship. This combination of "what is company policy" and "what can we demand the college/student tell us" is precisely why it's something HR is best placed to deal with. – Kate Gregory Feb 15 '18 at 3:53
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    Kate Gregory: the college will almost never tell you why a student was suspended, and as you point out some reasons are minor. "...HR can ask the prospective intern to prove the suspension reason in order to keep the internship." Says who? Intrusion of privacy (could be financial, medical, psychiatric, etc.). Assume they refuse to answer on privacy grounds. What then? And even if they told you some reason, how could you tell it was the truth, since the college won't confirm it? Further intrusion of privacy. – smci Feb 15 '18 at 4:31
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    I actually didn't think any of the reasons were minor. Many internship programs require you to be a student, so the mere suspension may be enough to scuttle it. Only HR knows if they need the reason or not. Whether the college or the student will provide it will vary, but the OP should not be spreading gossip based on the assumption that HR cannot find out the reason for the suspension. They could say "we are going to withdraw the offer unless you can show us that it was only x, y, or z." There is no "right" to a job. You don't have "privacy" as a reason to force others to give you a job. – Kate Gregory Feb 15 '18 at 14:07
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You should mind your own business.

You know ZERO facts about what happened (if anything) and are engaging in gossip mongering. You could be terminated, and even sued if you spread any rumors as this could damage his career.

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