Malicious and untrue allegation made at work - what are the options?

(17 Posts)
AIBUtopickanyoldname Wed 27-Mar-19 17:59:27

A close male family member of mine joined a company one month after his female colleague. They work on the same team and their roles overlap. The female colleague, FC, took a dislike to my family member, FM, straight away and was obstructive and difficult when my FM tried to carry out his tasks that overlapped with hers.

The FC passed her probation period and my FM still had a month left to go on his. During this period the FC made a malicious allegation of sexual harassment against my FM. She alleged that the harassment took place on a certain day at a certain time when she and my FM would ordinarily have been alone in the office together. But unknown to the FC, my FM was actually in an unscheduled meeting with the CEO of the company at the time she alleged he harassed her. So HR completely cleared him of any wrongdoing. By the time HR had cleared him, his probation period was up and he was one week past the official end of his probation, but there had been no formal end of probation review or acknowledgement that he had passed.

The FC wasn't disciplined or anything. They were both moved from their adjacent desks and now sit apart in different parts of the office.

The problem is, their roles haven't changed and they are still required to work with each other. My FM recently had his end of probation review (by now a month late) and was told his probation had been extended for another month because he wasn't performing. But his performance has been directly impacted by having to work in the same team as the FC, whom he is now very wary of and would rather have nothing to do with. He has been very stressed by the whole episode and hasn't been sleeping, which has obviously affected his performance too.

This all feels very unfair. This FC has been able to throw a bomb into his career progression while getting off scot free herself.

Where does he stand on the probation issue? He had technically passed it and then they retroactively extended it by a month citing poor performance, but of course his performance is going to be affected because he's being made to work with someone who makes malicious allegations against him.

I've told him to contact ACAS, but any advice on where else he should go from here would be welcome.

OP’s posts: |
chocolatebuttonsandcheese Wed 27-Mar-19 18:03:39

Probation really doesn't mean anything, if he's worked for a company less than two years then they can get rid of him at any time anyway. Probation is just a matter of formality. I don't think there's anything he can do I'm afraid. Im sorry to hear he's going through a rough time.

hopeishere Wed 27-Mar-19 18:11:23

Was she not disciplined for making a malicious allegation?!

Romax Wed 27-Mar-19 18:12:19

Odd she specifically chose a day and time where they would normally have been together but on this off occasion he was in a meeting.

donajimena Wed 27-Mar-19 18:13:39

Surely there would be a sexual discrimination aspect to this?

LIZS Wed 27-Mar-19 18:18:17

He could probably raise a grievance but ultimately he or she could be let go before 2 year's service regardless. If his probation was extended it was unlikely to be on the basis of a few weeks' poor performance and he should have objectives he needs to meet now to pass - if not he needs to ask.

AIBUtopickanyoldname Wed 27-Mar-19 18:25:22

He thinks she looked in his diary (it's all online and shared) and saw that his only meeting was in the morning, so she said the harassment happened at lunchtime. But actually the morning meeting started later that planned, so it was still going on at the time she said he harassed her. Everyone else in the meeting confirmed this. This was the only incident she complained about.

I wondered whether he had a case for bullying. It feels very scary that she can just say something like this, make it so uncomfortable for him that he suffers stress and he has to leave, while she gets to keep her job.

OP’s posts: |
AIBUtopickanyoldname Wed 27-Mar-19 18:28:25

Oh shit, I forgot an important bit of it. His boss left half way through his probation period and a new boss came on board just as it was all kicking off with the FC. So it's this boss who's extended his probation on the basis of only having worked with him a few weeks and almost all of that time being spent dealing with a sexual harassment allegation against him.

OP’s posts: |
wigglypiggly Wed 27-Mar-19 19:19:09

Is he in a union, or contact ACAS. Making false allegations against someone might be a disciplinary offense, I would check with h.r, I would ask to be moved or have her moved, is there an occupational health dept where he works.

wigglypiggly Wed 27-Mar-19 19:30:48

Has he sought legal advice about the false allegation if its affected his reputation.

AIBUtopickanyoldname Wed 27-Mar-19 21:14:11

No he hasn't sought legal advice yet. Isn't slander and libel litigation always really expensive and difficult to prove?

Has anyone ever had someone make a malicious allegation and then been cleared? What should happen to the person who made the false allegation? Surely she can't be allowed to get away with it?

OP’s posts: |
wigglypiggly Wed 27-Mar-19 21:21:28

I think its defamation, I dont know the law but it does seem really unfair. What does his union advise. He should hold his head high, maybe think about a grievance but everything can be stressful

GRW Wed 27-Mar-19 21:33:35

I would make sure he is never alone with her, so she cannot allege any further wrongdoing.

hopeishere Thu 28-Mar-19 07:18:11

I think private legal action would be a waste of time.

He needs to go to HR; get a written confirmation of where his performance is lacking and what he needs to do to pass his probation; aid then ask if they have addressed the malicious grievance and possibly raise a grievance against her.

Jellyandjam Thu 28-Mar-19 07:23:05

Firstly, I am sorry your family member is dealing with this. Something similar happened to my husband last year and went through hell for months. It's massively affected both of our mental health. In our case even though he was completely cleared of the harassment, the company still let him go. I can't now legally explain what happened next but it doesn't make up for what we went through and in are actually still going through.
We looked at defamation but it's very expensive. Is there anything in any policy about bringing false, malicious allegations? I agree with asking for an occupational health referral and also has he seen his gp? My husband has had counselling and is on medication for the anxiety and stress. I hope he finds a way to get through it and that ultimately she is dealt with so she doesn't do it again (which in our case we found out had happened in the past).

Clutterbugsmum Thu 28-Mar-19 07:55:08

I would look for another job. HR should have dealt with her but as they haven't they are not going to protect him from her so I would be looking to leave.

Can he request to move to another office away from her or least make sure that they are not alone in the office together due to her lies.

daisychain01 Fri 29-Mar-19 05:55:17

The company is showing him how they deal with these issues - badly.

He'd be better off not investing time there and getting something else, as the situation has affected the relationship with the employer.

If he really felt strongly he could put it to them that they are effectively discriminating against him under the Equality Act by failing to exonerate him completely over the false allegations and treating the FC more favourably. Like all UK employees he is protected from discrimination from Day 1 of his employment but reality is it's a risk, it could all blow up and get nasty even if he is completely innocent.

He needs to decide if 6 months employment there is worth saving or whether he just moves on and start afresh elsewhere.

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