Bogus Harassment Excuse #5: He/She Started It

Employees offer an array of creative excuses when trying
to defend their actions in what is known as a hostile work
environment harassment case. 

Here is excuse #5 of the top 10 excuses:
“He/She started it.”

This excuse is sometimes heard along with the mutual
consent defense.

In this case, the person accused of the wrongdoing claims
that the party who is now complaining is the individual
who initiated the activity.

HR CONTRARIAN POINTER: As they say, “The devil is in the
details.”  The fact that the party who is now complaining
about the activity may have in fact initiated the action
does not let the other person off-the-hook, whether the
other person is a manager or just another employee.

When it comes to supervisory staff, there is an old
adage, “Identical behavior is not identical if there is a
difference in the authority, power, and control between
the participants.”  This simply means that a manager is
held to a higher standard by virtue of his/her status.

This is not to say that the complainer will get off
“scot-free.”  The employee who filed the complaint may be
on the receiving end of some disciplinary action for
his/her role in the activity.

The key in this situation is to conduct a thorough
investigation and maintain good records in the event that
there is subsequent legal action against your company.

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