My boss says that I have done something wrong but I didn't and I have no doubt about it.

Regardless of context, what's the most professional response or behavior to adapt when one is falsely accused of anything?

In this specific case, I am accused of a disciplinary infraction.

  • 20
    Your question is a bit ambiguous. The boss says "you did X and it's wrong". Do you mean that you never did X, or that you did X but it was not wrong to do it?
    – rumtscho
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 10:18

3 Answers 3


For anything that is serious enough to be called a 'disciplinary infraction' you should be given a chance to defend yourself against the accusation.

  1. The first stage of this is to make sure you are given details of what you are accused of - for example (and I've no idea if this is in any way what you are accused of) not just "you stole company property" but "you stole such and such an item on such and such a date".
  2. If you are accused of something serious, that might result in your firing or some other serious punishment, read up on your rights according to law and company policy. You might for example have the right to have someone sit with you in any meetings. If you have that right, use it. If you are a member of a trade union or professional association consult with them, and have one of them accompany you to meetings if allowed.
  3. Once you have the details, and you believe you did not do what you are accused of, make that clear to your boss. Ask for a meeting to discuss why he thinks you did this. At that meeting be prepared to give your side of the story. In the meantime, get together the evidence that will prove you didn't do what you are accused of - emails, written documents, and find people who will be able to back up your story. Be prepared to list the evidence in your favour to your boss, although you don't need to have the people who will back your story present at the meeting. If your relationship with your boss is not good, you may want to move straight to the next stage.
  4. If the meeting at stage three did not resolve things, then you need to request a formal meeting with someone from HR as well as your boss. For something serious you might also want to consult a lawyer. At this stage you are probably going to have to produce any evidence you have to back your story up, and they might also want to involve any 'witnesses' you have.
  5. If this still does not resolve things, any further escalation is going to depend on law and company policy and we can't help you. There will probably be a company appeal process.

Throughout all this process it is very important to remain calm and professional in tone and attitude. Don't accuse your boss of lying, or bias, or prejudice, or anything like that (unless you have absolutely irrefutable evidence that is the case). Your boss might be acting as best he can according to the information he has been given. It's important not to be angry at any point. State your case calmly and clearly.

If you have been accused of something that might also be a criminal offence, such as theft or leaking company secrets, you should consult a lawyer now.

If at any point you realize that you did do something against company policy without realizing it, even if you think it wasn't a 'wrong' thing, (even if you think it's a stupid policy) be prepared to admit it and make it clear that you didn't realize you were doing something wrong.

Finally, we don't know your company policy, so if it contradicts what we say here, follow company policy. Make sure you know what it is.

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    +1, especially for the paragraph with "It's important not to be angry at any point." Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 8:17
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    +1, note that in some countries, trade unions are happy (and legally allowed) to assist non-members as well so contacting a union rep might still be an option, even if you never felt the need to join a union before.
    – Relaxed
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 8:30
  • 2
    I thought someone was innocent until proven otherwise, and not guilty until proven innocent.
    – dyesdyes
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 13:09
  • @dyesdyes: I think this answer does make that assumption, plus it assumes (unwritten) that if the OP's situation does go as far as disciplinary action that the company/boss will be presenting their view of any evidence. I think the OP would being considered innocent if they are continuing with their work and without any disciplinary action on record i.e. they have not been officially reprimanded or had any impact to their contract, but have been accused of something. Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 13:20
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    @dyesdyes A person accused of a criminal complaint (at least in the U.S.) is considered not guilty until sufficient credible evidence is presented that a jury concludes that they are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Companies are not held to the same requirements, however all they can do is fire you, they cannot throw you in prison or worse. In work at will states in the U.S. an employer can fire an employee at any time for almost any reason. Also depending on the accusation the company might feel that they need to cover their butt.
    – kleineg
    Commented Nov 17, 2014 at 14:14

Most companies big enough to use the phrase 'disciplinary infraction' are probably also big enough to have a formal process for appeals against this. The professional thing to do would be to assemble your evidence of your innocence and use this appeal process.


Generally it is a bad approach to attempt proving you are not guilty. Every lawyer should confirm that. The burden of evidence must be on the side of those claiming you are guilty. Do not accept the provocation by taking the burden on your side.

Failure to understand this simple rule have caused many undeserved punishments in historical past. "Prove your are innocent" was a very common approach to get somebody sent to Siberia in the times of Stalinism. Literally thousands got death penalty for activities they have never done for the regime.

As a result, I would only start excessive campaign of providing contra-evidences if there are really very good counter-evidences available. While it may be necessary to talk, the talk should be focused on that the opposing side does not provide any evidences they are right.

  • ... and will not delete this answer
    – eee
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 17:33
  • 1
    Innocent until proven guilty only applies to being charged with crimes by the government, not workplace infractions. In many places you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, regardless of whether they have "proved" you did. Particularly when it comes down to your word against another person, they will usually err on the side of punishing the accused rather than risk a lawsuit from the accuser.
    – David K
    Commented May 5, 2017 at 17:34

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