Q: Is it legal for an employer to claim that sexual harassment allegations have been filed but decline to provide them.
A university professor was informed by admin that allegations of "inappropriate relations" were made by a student against the professor. Nothing of the sort ever happened and there is no evidence that would suggest that it did. According to the dept chair the student made verbal allegations in a highly anxious state. Despite repeated requests, admin refused to explain what the alleged "inappropriate relations" entailed. The professor was instructed to attend a meeting in which the formal allegations would be presented. A day or so before the meeting, after talking with legal, admin informed the professor that the allegations included sexual harassment and unwanted advancements. However, at the meeting admin declined to provide any formal written allegations and would not state unequivocally whether such allegations exist. It seems likely that they do not. Is this legal? Is there any recourse?
A: Under Dept. of Education regulations, all schools that receive a sexual harassment/assault claim, must investigate the allegation. Each institution has its own procedures related to who conducts the investigation and how it is conducted (read your employee manual for details). During the investigation phase the institution/investigator cannot and should not convey any details of the investigation until the review is completed and/or made public. In other words, you will not receive any information until the investigation is complete and the institution makes a determination of how to proceed with the allegation. You may want to use this wait time to interview and/or hire a lawyer.
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