Sexual Harassment: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

Learning Minutes


A viewer writes, "Why were people like Matt Lauer and others suddenly forced out of their jobs without being given a chance to defend themselves? What about 'innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt'? Find out in this week's Kantola Learning Minute with workplace trainer Linda Garrett, JD.



Transcript:
Hi, I'm Linda Garrett with a Kantola Learning Minute. Here's a great question from a viewer: "Why are people like Matt Lauer and others suddenly forced out of their jobs without being given a chance to defend themselves? What about 'innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt'?

Well, I think there are two things important here: First, we don't know the full story. We don't know how long the employer has been investigating, what the investigator learned, or whether the conditions of the departure were mutually agreed upon. Second, we have to remember that 'innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt' is the touchstone of our criminal justice system. A different standard prevails in civil matters, such as employment discrimination cases. Employers investigating sexual harassment complaints are not bound by criminal justice standards and may conclude that discipline is appropriate after conducting a fact-finding investigation.

Said another way, no one would face arrest and criminal charges for telling dirty jokes or suggesting sexual activity with a subordinate, but they might be fired for it. The standards are simply different, and most employers have a zero tolerance policy for deliberate, serious misconduct.

Thank you.

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