Help! I’ve been accused of sexual harassment

Dear Evil HR Lady

I am a new manager (3 months), and one of my supervisors recently notified me of an issue she is having with her co-worker. I explained that I was aware of the issue and was addressing it. (The issue with her coworker did not directly affect her or her workload.)

Three days later, she came to me again with the same issue — this time with a tone of voice as if I had not addressed the issue. I explained to her that I did know about the issue but that it would be inappropriate for me to discuss my conversation with this other supervisor and that I was handling the issue. She then told me that she has something else to address with me. She said that I make her feel uncomfortable because I look at her inappropriately. I told her that I was sorry that she felt this way and that If I had done this it was unintentional. My first instinct was to report this to HR, as I felt that I was being threatened with an accusation that was untrue because she did not like being counseled on her persistence in resolving an issue with her coworker.

I am questioning this choice because I fear that this situation could turn on me and could cause me problems or to lose my job.


To read the answer click here: Help! I’ve been accused of sexual harassment

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8 thoughts on “Help! I’ve been accused of sexual harassment

  1. I’m confused by the reporting relationships of the people in involved. I want to make sure I’m reading it correctly. The OP says:

    “I am a new manager (3 months), and one of my supervisors recently notified me of an issue she is having with her co-worker

    In my mind, it seems like it’s the OP’s BOSS and another BOSS that are having issues? (“my supervisor and her coworker”). I don’t usually get too picky about details of OPs situations, but this one is throwing me for a loop. I’m just curious how OP is responsible for solving a problem with HIS BOSS and another BOSS? I must be seeing something incorrectly.

    1. Managers manager supervisors. This person is the supervisor’s boss–that’s why it’s his problem.

  2. I think your advice to cover his butt is spot on. This woman sounds like she might be kind of manipulative. Why she would pull this on a brand new boss, I’m not sure. Unless the OP is really ogling her and not telling you, but it doesn’t sound that way.

  3. Possibly the most distasteful event so far in my career was having to investigate an anonymous and entirely false accusation of sexual impropriety. One of my very senior managers was accused of an extremely improper relationship with the sales representative of a supplier. It was a terrible feeling to have to drag innocent people through the investigation. Unfortunately, it was simply not possible to identify the accuser.

    I wholeheartedly agree with the advice to immediately notify HR of the situation posed above. One of the fastest ways to silence people making specious accusations is to shine a very bright light on the situation. I’ll predict that if HR, the manager who sent in the question, and the accuser have a face-to-face meeting, and if the meeting is documented, there’s a good chance that the accuser will resign and go elsewhere. Given the present job market, that may only be wishful thinking.

    1. A bad job market causes a whole host of other problems–the one you’ve mentioned here is definitely one of them.

  4. Wow, this female supervisor sounds like trouble with a capital “T”. I agree with everyone else who thinks she’s laying groundwork for creating problems for the manager.

    Take the consultant’s advice and make sure you have all your conversations with her and HR in writing (as a “follow up”, if nothing else).

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