What should be management best response to complainant (staff / community member) after a harassment / corruption complaint is proved to be false?

  • 1
    Possible duplicate of workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/36344/… Apr 13, 2016 at 6:07
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    "proved false" is a bit ambiguous. There is a huge range between a malicious completely unfounded claim, a claim that was factually correct but was not found to be harassment, and a claim for which there was not enough evidence to sustain. Plus, it will depend heavily on your country and the laws in that country. Apr 13, 2016 at 6:08
  • Proving a negative can be very difficult. If you're lucky enough to be able to prove that a person intentionally lied, through a time-stamped video recording, or through some other piece of evidence, then you may be able to sue. But you're really not giving us any details here. You need to give us details if you want us to help. Apr 13, 2016 at 7:22
  • Voted to close as a legal / advice question. Keep in mind that management responses can be severely limited by legal complications and you'd need your HR and/or legal department for matters like this. As an example, you can't really interfere with a Professional Engineer's duties in Canada, as explored in this question
    – Lilienthal
    Apr 13, 2016 at 10:32
  • @Lilienthal, I don't see this so much as a legal question as a how do we handle the issue in the workplace now that it has happened. These people are still working together after all.
    – HLGEM
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:59

2 Answers 2


There are several possibilities for this:

1. The claim was provably false and filed with malice.

In this case the response is usually dismissal and criminal charges where applicable

2. The claim was correct but not found to be harassment.

There is usually no disciplinary action for this unless its repeated

3. The claim was not supported by enough evidence either way

Same as #2

Do keep in mind though that this varies greatly by local laws, labour laws and company.

  • If it is possible to separate the two employees, it would probably be a good idea. This is especially true if one manages the other one. There is bound to be resentment at the claim even when the person making it truly felt harassed. I would give the person who was vindicated the opportunity to decide to stay or move first as sometimes a move is to something that is actually more interesting work. This is not possible usually in a small company. I would likely also have HR discuss the problem of retaliation with both of them individually and make it clear that this will not be tolerated.
    – HLGEM
    Apr 13, 2016 at 15:57

It greatly depends on local laws, but in general this would mean dismissal in my books if it was a malicious complaint. If I couldn't do it straight away for some reason, it would happen as soon as I could manage it.

If it was a misunderstanding (which seems unlikely) I'd still get rid of them eventually, but I'd be nicer about it.

This sort of issue is bad for morale. The longer it's in peoples faces being talked about, the worse.

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