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Why is there a great concern about false allegations of sexual harassment (or other forms of harassment) when few formal complaint investigations result in findings of false allegations? There may be negative impacts on career and reputation. The stress, time, effort, frustration, and financial cost take a toll on the parties.Establishing the basis for a complaint, or defending against allegations, particularly if this entails proving a negative—that something did not happen when it is alleged it did—is often a difficult and lengthy process.While popular discourse may equate false allegations with lies, not all lies are false allegations.For example, a complainant may not disclose relevant facts owing to shame, embarrassment, fear, mental illness, or simple mistake.Complaints investigators do this by gathering evidence relevant to the allegations and assessing this evidence against established standards of what constitutes sexual harassment.These standards have evolved over the years through decisions of courts, human rights administrative tribunals, and arbitrators, and are informed by research and policy development. If the allegation has merit it will be substantiated by the evidence. In a few instances, a determination of “unable to substantiate” may apply, if the investigation has not been able to find evidence persuasive either way, often the result of a lack of any evidence (direct or similar fact) which might shed light on the matter.Too often people quickly and inappropriately rush to judgment, declaring harassment exists before the facts are known, the evidence is assessed, and a proper determination is made. Indeed, David Mamet’s controversial play is sometimes referred to as a he-said-she-said sexual harassment story.
As an investigator of hundreds of complaints I have seen much confusion and many misconceptions about false allegations.
A famous photograph illustrates this; conduct occurred, but does it constitute sexual harassment?
by Ruth Orkin is one of the best-known street photographs.
While the onus is first on the complainant to make out a prima facie case (before the onus shifts to the alleged harasser to respond to the allegations), the prima facie case does not in itself create proof of substantiation.
As noted earlier, whether the complaint has merit will be determined through a fact-finding process.
) privilege of John and the awakening feminist (and mob? Over the years, labour arbitrators have cautioned against using subjective impressions to decide the merit of workplace grievances of harassment.