Following the Harvy Weinstein sexual misconduct scandal, it was apparent our nation has a problem.
For decades many accusations were swept under the rug and payouts made to keep victims quiet. All of it done to protect the reputations of industries and companies. One might say the pot finally reached its boiling point and now America’s faced with a massive overflow of accusations and terminations.
While the number of firings has subsided, this recent #MeToo movement has brought to light the problems many women faced in the workplace.
It’s likely companies and industries are frantically reviewing sexual harassment and misconduct policies to reduce and put an end to all forms of it within their organizations. Not to mention the number of men who are still worried an accusation from someone – in their past – could still possibly lead to their dismissal.
There are rumors of people being let go solely based on accusations. If that’s actually happening, no professional organization should be allowed to terminate someone’s position based on a mere accusation. An investigation should always take place before a decision is made.
While anyone with an honest accusation should be heard, they should also do it knowing there will be stiff penalties should they be caught lying. Also, authorities should be involved when a false claim is made. In addition to termination, an organization should press charges of attempting to slander an employee’s reputation. A charge which carries with it severe jail time if the accuser is found to be lying.
REASONS FOR FALSE ALLEGATIONS
While false rape claims are not anywhere near as prevalent as real sexual misconduct incidents, there have been cases where men have been falsely accused.
Reasons vary. Some accusers do it because of a grudge against their former lover. Others may feel guilty for engaging in a sexual incident which spread around a school or town. Then in an attempt to save face, claim they were sexually assaulted. And, women have used sexual assault claims against men to get out of trouble.
In cases where false accusations are discovered in the workplace, what should the punishment be beyond termination?
While men who sexually assault women need to be held accountable, there needs to be a greater fear of making false accusations.
As allegations are reviewed on a case by case basis, a woman’s role needs to be examined as well. This is not implying women ‘bring it on themselves’. With the number of men who’ve lost their careers as a result of the #MeToo movement, human resource departments can be quick to act in order to avoid accusations they’re protecting sexual abusers (i.e., Fox news and Bill O’Riley).
No doubt, NBC’s Matt Lauer deserved his firing. However, he made statements regarding his shock by one person who he believed he was in a consensual relationship with. If a relationship was consensual, there had to be flirting going on between the two and – likely – even comments which would easily be deemed as inappropriate for the workplace. Not just from Lauer.
In fact, women who dated Lauer knew he was married. Questions should come up as to ‘Did their romance ever take place inside the office?’ and ‘What led to the specific inappropriate actions on Lauer’s part?’ Lauer will face a lifetime of public harassment for his actions and his adultery, yet as for the relationships, he considered to be consensual certainly brings about many questions as to why that woman brought her accusations to NBC HR Department.
IMPACT OF FALSE ALLEGATIONS
False allegations have ruined people’s lives.
They’ve lead to prison time, loss of job, inability to get an equal paying job, and ruined reputation.
And it doesn’t stop there.
False allegations ruin families. Can entail the falsely accused getting denied time with their kids. Community turns on turning on them. Harassed as being a sexual predator. Family members harassed and friends distancing themselves. In one sad case, a mother committed suicide believing her son was in jail for life.
For men who fight and win, they have to sometimes pay a fortune in court costs to prove their innocence.
In cases where a woman still claims she was sexually assaulted, even if the evidence against her shows she wasn’t, the man is left to go through the rest of his life with the stigma he very well could be a sexual predator.
ASSUMPTION OF GUILT
With momentum picking up over the #MeToo movement, accusations are enough for the general public to assume the accused is guilty.
America’s legal system operates on the basis of ‘Innocent until proven guilty’. Sadly, that’s not how the court of public opinion operates.
In a culture which lusts for gossip and revelations of wrongdoings, an innocent verdict in a criminal court is not enough to erase the stigma of an accusation, which is not surprising as we’ve heard many politicians deny accusations and later find them to be true.
While those found guilty are worthy of their punishment, a false accusation shouldn’t only lead to a slap on the hand and a one-hour special.