Random Thoughts – Randocity!

The “Accusation War”

Posted in equality, gender by commorancy on October 4, 2018

The gender fight is now firmly underway. The lines have been drawn. With near constant accusations from women against men in power, this is the new Women’s Movement. A movement that has gained so much traction and power, many women now wield it callously and with reckless abandon. Let’s Explore.

Women’s Movements and Accusation Power

From the Suffragettes to Women’s Liberation to today’s “Accusation War” paradigm, we are firmly entrenched in a yet another gender war. A war in which the casualties are now primarily aimed at men in power. From Harvey Weinstein to Bill Cosby to Al Franken to Brett Kavanaugh.

The #metoo movement has now realized exactly how much power an accusation holds and how much power an accuser wields with that accusation. Accusations now have the power of, at best, causing death threats, family disruption, slander and malice towards those impacted. At worst, an accusation can cause loss of employment, loss of family, loss of money to legal fees and court costs up to including prison time if convicted.

I’m not in any way saying that some of these accused men are entirely innocent. I am also not saying that all of these accusing women are innocent, either. It’s very easy to take something out of context and blow it way out of proportion, particularly if said event happened decades earlier at a frat party.

Mind over Matter

The difficulty with decades old encounters is that there is no way to get any proof of said event. That proof is long gone. The only possibly corroboration of said event is if a third party was there to witness it. Otherwise, it is firmly “He Said, She Said”. The question is, when only two parties have any knowledge of the event, who are we supposed to trust?

Do we side with the woman who claims sexual abuse? Do we side with the man who states nothing occurred? This is the fundamental dilemma in “He Said, She Said”.

Unfortunately, in the court of social media opinion on sites like Twitter, these folks believe themselves to be judge, jury and executioner. The United States legal system is based on “Innocent until proven guilty”. Yet, social media and to some degree the commercial news media have always taken the stance, “Guilty until proven innocent”. This means holding one of these two parties out to dry. People say and do the most callous things towards others when they have a vehement belief. Take it down a notch, people.

In “He Said, She Said” situations, I simply can’t side with either. There’s no way to know who’s right and who’s wrong. It simply cannot be determined. Unfortunately, with the #metoo movement, social media seems to primarily side with accuser and against the accused. It just takes one female to step out and claim anything she wishes, even making it up as she goes along to exact revenge on the accused. It doesn’t matter whether the allegations are fact or fiction, it matters that the accusation was levied. That’s the point that women have come to understand. This is the power the accuser wields so very callously.

Manipulation

The act of manipulating a situation is an act of power. If you can manipulate a situation for your own benefit, then you hold that power. Many women have now come to understand the level of power that can be levied by mere words.

I’m not saying that some of those words are untrue. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what is true and what is false when only two people are involved in a situation. This is especially true when the event was decades ago. I’m certainly empathetic to their plight that they claim, but there is no way to determine the validity of those words without some measure of proof or witnesses.

Manipulation of situations by making false accusations shouldn’t be without peril. Right now, women can levy statements and ruin people’s lives and walk away unscathed. This is the problem that needs to be addressed.

Penalities for False Allegations

If a woman makes a claim against a man regarding sexual misconduct and those allegations are found to be false, this needs a heavy penalty. It needs to incur a penalty that makes any false accusers think more than twice about accusing someone simply because they can. The penalty of falsely accusing anyone should be as harsh as it is for the accused. Employers need to see the false accuser in the same light as the accused as far as job credibility. A false accuser should lose their job, their family and anything else near and dear. Additionally, falsely accusing someone of sexual misconduct needs additional legal support. It should become at least a misdemeanor if not a felony to falsely accuse someone.

In court, making false statement is governed by perjury. Without seeing the inside of a courtroom, perjury doesn’t apply. However, slander and defamation does, but these aren’t punishable nearly enough when someone falsely accuses.

As I said, the penalty against a false accuser must be as severe as the penalties against a person found guilty of sexual misconduct. I might even class false accusations of sexual misconduct with the same legal penalties as those being accused of sexual misconduct including being put onto the sexual offender registry. After all, falsely calling someone a sexual offender means that you have become a sexual offender by abusing sexual offender laws to legally implicate someone else. It’s only fair you become what you claim someone else is. Eye for an eye and all that.

Someone reading may think, “That’s a little harsh”, but think about it. If someone is willing to lie to falsely convict a sex offender, then the laws need to reverse when the lie is uncovered. If you falsely accuse someone of a thing, you become that thing. It’s only fair to make the false accuser endure the same laws they were attempting to force on someone else. This includes putting the false accuser onto the sexual offender registry.

Again, false accusation penalties must be severely handled to make people think twice about falsely accusing another of something as severe as sexual misconduct.

False, Genuine, Time and Clouded Thinking

The mind becomes a grey area when time (and substance abuse) gets involved. Some of us may sport eidetic memory, but most of us don’t. Recalling exact details many years ago can be difficult and tricky. These memories can easily become clouded and conflated by later events, introduced by a friend’s faulty memories, distorted images and overall limited recall.

The problem I have with accusing people of sexual misconduct under these cloudy circumstances is that it has immediate and severe consequences, particularly if the person holds any measure of celebrity. Consequences that can cause death threats, divorce, ostracization, loss of career, loss of friends and family with possible mental health issues that result.

Yet, we have so many callous accusers jumping on the #metoo bandwagon who may not properly recall the events of the night in question. Perhaps they were sexually molested in college during a drunken frat party, but conflated that event to a more traumatic interaction much earlier in life. Perhaps they have a memory planted in their head. Perhaps it’s simply revenge. It’s far too easy to conflate similar events in the mind and misremember something that didn’t actually happen.

Being Absolutely Certain

This is why it’s important to be absolutely certain when making accusations of sexual misconduct. If you have any doubts exactly when, where, who or how it happened, don’t accuse. If you need to discuss an event that you think may have happened, discuss it with a therapist or a priest in confessional. Talk about it. Get it out and discuss it. But, don’t accuse someone unless you are absolutely certain of that it occurred and by the accused. Simply because you have a 20 year old memory of something in your head doesn’t mean it’s real 20 or 30 years later. If you had friends there with you, talk to them about it. Make sure they saw what you saw. If they can’t corroborate your recollection of events, perhaps you need to stop trying to act on it and definitely don’t accuse. The #metoo movement is not the place incorrect memories and cloudy recall.

In a cloudy memory situation, I’m not saying someone didn’t get molested. But, time and substance abuse have ways of screwing with your head. Make absolutely certain that what you remember is actually what happened. If you were bombed out of your head that night, how do you know what you did or how you acted? If you were drugged by someone at a party and you can’t recall anything from the night before, this is a situation first for a therapist (unless you have absolute proof, such as a rape kit having been performed the day after).

If have no knowledge of the event, but simply feelings and what you remember after waking up from your drunken stupor, accusing anyone of someone could turn into accusing the wrong person.

Alcohol and Drugs

One common theme with many accusations is drugs and/or alcohol. This means that many accusations happened at parties under the influence. If you’re at a party and you suspect something happened between you and someone else, you should try to confirm what happened with the other party and any other witnesses. Alcohol and drugs have a way of making people say and do things under the influence they may not otherwise say or do.

When you come out of that drug or alcohol induced stupor, you may then try to piece together what happened in your mind. The mind wants to make reason from chaos. This means potentially fabricating ideas about who, what, when, where and why. For this reason, accusing someone over a substance induced stupor means you could easily falsely accuse someone based on incomplete or even fabricated memories.

For the reason of substance abuse, I find it much, much harder to take someone seriously who makes accusations after having been under the influence. That doesn’t make it fair and it doesn’t make what happened false, but it does make accusations, particularly years later, hold far less weight. This is why having physical evidence such as a rape kit is so important.

Children and Abuse

This article is intended to primarily discuss adults accusing other adults of sexual misconduct. That is, to discuss adults who should already know the rules of the game. I would be remiss not discussing child abuse situations, but the underlying agenda of the #metoo movement seems less about child abuse and more about screwing with celebrities and those in power by levying sexual misconduct allegations against youthful indescretions.

Let’s talk about children for a moment. For children who were abused during childhood, I definitely feel for their situation. It’s an impossible situation when an authority figure abuses their authority position to perform sexual acts on a child. Children are not capable of processing that information properly at a young age.

Of course, over time and with life experience into adulthood, we come to understand what happened and are able to grasp the situation more completely. But, the wounds don’t heal. However, by the time we understand what happened, it’s usually too late to bring charges. If it’s a family member, it’s even harder to bring charges as a child (or even as an adult). How can you reconcile jailing your brother, mother, father, sister, grandfather or grandmother? As I said, it’s an impossible situation, particularly if they are the person is a primary caregiver.

If the abuse occurred at school, it can still be just as traumatic. A coach, teacher or student may cause intimidation preventing telling anyone about the situation. Jailing one of these people is less stigmatic, but can be difficult depending on the person.

If the abuse happened by a priest, it is even worse in some cases. Yes, some people who want to abuse others do tend to gravitate towards employment situations let’s them act out their personal fantasies and proclivities. These people fully grasp their position of a trusted authority figure such as coach, priest, principal, teacher, doctor, etc. It makes it especially difficult to out these people for their sexual misconduct. That’s why they have those chosen those specific positions of authority.

However, the times are changing. No longer do priests, cops, coaches, doctors and teachers hold the blanket authority power they once held when accused. Since all of the accusations over the years, these positions of implicit trusted power have lost their veneer. There is no person you should trust implicitly simply by their job title. Everyone must learn to trust an individual by their actions, not by the job title they hold. Never implicitly trust someone simply because they are titled as a caregiver.

For children who suffer this level of abuse, I wish I had an answer. Opening up on the situation and discussing it much later in life may be the only answer.

Seek Therapy

If you’ve been sexually abused by anyone and you can’t cope, seek a therapist. As they say, there are some things you can’t unsee (or in this case, undo). Therapists are there to help you come to terms with what happened. They won’t make it right, but they can help you grasp the situation better, gain better understanding of it and hopefully come to terms with it.

If you want to publicly accuse someone of having done something, consult with a therapist first. They may be able to help you determine if what you remember is valid or conflated memories. You don’t want to accuse someone accidentally. Falsely accusing, if even accidental, is something you’ll have to live with for the rest of your life. Just like whatever sexual abuse encounter you remember having, falsely accusing someone, even if accidental, is not something you can easily take back. You don’t want to require even more therapy because you falsely remembered an event and accused someone of something they didn’t do.

Accusing Someone

If you’ve been sexually molested by someone, it’s fine to join the #metoo movement so long as you don’t call them out by name. If you want to out someone by name, you should do so only after talking with an attorney and only do so to the authorities. If you choose to levy a public accusation at someone on social media, I’d suggest you do so with concrete proof. Meaning, have a rape kit handy, have witnesses handy, have doctor’s who’ve examined you handy, etc. If you’re really intent on outing someone for an act they performed on you 20 years ago, make sure that you are calling them out for it properly. Even then, doing it through the authorities and a police report is better than doing it on Facebook and Twitter.

If you plan on calling out someone for sexual misconduct, call them out with proof. Make sure the person who you claim abused you can be convicted of their actions legally. Simply calling them out publicly with no intent on legal action tells me that there’s something fishy at work, that the accuser cannot be trusted. If the accuser is unwilling to make the accusation stick legally, then it simply comes down to, “He Said, She Said”, which by its very nature is an untrustworthy situation.

If the intent of the “Accusation War” is to create a rift between the genders, then this current gender war is the perfect way to go about it. Can we survive it?

If you have been sexually molested or have been accused of sexual molestation, I’d like to hear your stories in the comments below.

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Workplace Crime: Should I talk to human resources?

Posted in best practices, business, Employment by commorancy on August 10, 2018

fingerprintI’m being harassed by a manager, should I talk to human resources? Let’s explore.

Sexual Assault in the Workplace

I’ll lead with this one right up front as it’s front and center news and part of the #metoo movement. While this tends to be more common for females than males, both genders can experience this problem in the workplace. What should you do if you’re groped in the workplace in an inappropriate way? The first question you’re probably asking is, “Should I contact human resources?”

The answer is a resounding, NO. Do not contact the human resources team and try to complain there first. In fact, unless you’re a manager in the organization, you should entirely avoid complaining to human resources. Why? Let’s explore deeper.

Human Resources works for Management

This is an important concept to understand about corporate business. The HR team works for the management team, not the employees. Many people have a misconception that the HR team is an advocate group for the employee. This is entirely false. The HR team members, no matter how friendly they may appear, are not and will never be an employee advocate. Only you can be your own advocate (along with any attorney you hire). Your employer’s HR team looks out for #1, which is the business itself and the management team.

If the activity you experienced is sexual misconduct and resulted in bruises, marks or injury, then visit a hospital and take photos of the injuries first. Call 911 if necessary. If situation involves rape, then you’ll need to have the hospital perform a rape kit. When you are able and out of immediate danger, you should call the police and file a police report against the person describing what happened to you and by whom within the police report. Always ensure you are out of immediate danger before contacting anyone.

Next, find a lawyer who can represent you in this matter. If the lawyer finds merit in a lawsuit against the accused (or your company), it’s up to you to decide or not to proceed with the case. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you understand the consequences and the monetary costs of pressing such legal action, particularly against managers and particularly against high paid executives and your employer.

Once you have filed both a police report and you have a lawyer, only then should you involve the human resources team and give them whatever information that your lawyer deems appropriate to give them. Remember, only your lawyer is your advocate. The human resources team represents the company’s interests, not yours. Even then, you should only contact your company’s human resources team after discussing this strategy with your lawyer.

The human resources team’s responsibility is always to find reasons to discredit you and sweep the event under the rug. Once a police report is filed and you have a lawyer, the HR team can no longer play the protect-the-company game as easily because the police are now involved. The HR team is not law enforcement, but they always want to avoid lawsuits at all costs. They exist to make sure the company’s image remains clean and friendly. If it gets publicized that staff are being sexually assaulted in their workplace, their hiring efforts will cease. No one will want to work at a company that wilfully puts employees into harm’s way while on the job. No, it is in HR’s best interest to ensure an employee making an accusation is at best discredited and at worst terminated. HR may or may not terminate the accused depending on the position held within the company and depending on the accusation and against whom.

For example, if the person being accused of sexual misconduct is a manager, director, VP or C-level exec, it’s almost certain the accusing employee will be targeted for termination. The accused will likely remain at the company. As I said, it’s important to understand that the HR team’s obligation to the company is to protect the management team and the company against lawsuits and protect the company’s image that might interfere with hiring efforts. They also don’t have to play fair to do this… which is why termination may be a very real outcome for whistleblowing such activities within a company.

Targeted for Termination

While whistleblowers have protection when working in government jobs, no such protections exist for private corporations. If you whistleblow as an employee of a private corporation, the company is well within their rights to terminate your employment with or without cause. This is particularly true if your employment is considered AT-WILL. Of course, you can also sue the company for wrongful termination. The HR team is well aware of this position as well.

To avoid a wrongful termination lawsuit, the management team will likely sideline you into a position where you cannot succeed. This will then force you to perform badly and force management to put you onto a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP). Because you have no way to succeed on this PIP, you’ll fail at all of the success goals while on the PIP and, at the end of the improvement period, you will be ushered to the door. This is a common strategy to get rid of troublemakers and avoid wrongful termination lawsuits. Because they followed the PIP plan to the letter and have documented it at every step, this is the company’s insurance policy against wrongful termination lawsuits.

If you whistleblow and end up on a PIP, you’re being groomed for termination. You should take this as a huge red flag to move on. Put your resume out there the day you find out you have been put on a PIP. Don’t wait. Don’t assume things will work out.

Previous Employer Lawsuits

If you quit your offending employer and find a new job, you should keep any previous employer litigation information confidential. Do not disclose this to your new employer. First, it’s not their business. Second, if they find out you’re suing a previous employer, that could become contentious with your new company. They may feel threatened that you could take legal action against them. Don’t inform them of any pending legal action.

Don’t discuss it with co-workers. Don’t discuss it with your manager. Simply, don’t discuss it. Only discuss it with your lawyer. If you need to take off work for a legal meeting with your attorney or with the case, simply tell your employer that you have a personal matter that you need to discuss with your attorney and leave it at that. If they press you on the legal matter, just explain to them that due to pending litigation, you can’t discuss the case.

Termination and Lawsuits

If you’re terminated from the offending company, you may be asked to sign legal documents stating you won’t sue the company or that you’ll agree to arbitration. Simply ignore the documents and don’t sign them. The company cannot withhold your pay as extortion for signing those documents. If they try this, this is illegal and you can sue them for withholding your earned pay. A CEO can even be personally jailed for willfully withholding your pay even if it was someone else in the organization who made that decision. Your company must pay you the hours you worked regardless of what you sign going out the door.

Also, being terminated doesn’t absolve the company from any legal wrongdoing. If you have a pending lawsuit against the company, being terminated doesn’t change the status of that pending lawsuit. You are still free to pursue any lawsuits you have open. In fact, being able to document termination in a retaliatory way may even strengthen your lawsuit.

If you signed an arbitration agreement as part of your hiring package with the company (which you should never do), then you’ll have to discuss this situation with your lawyer to find your best avenue for litigation.

Guilt, Lawsuits and your Career

If you witness or you become a part of an illegal activity in the workplace (i.e., sexual misconduct), it is on you to determine how you want to handle it. You can do nothing and let it drop or you can take it to the police. It’s your choice. Too many companies get away with far too much. If you witness or experience anything illegal while on the job, you should report it to the police and consider a lawsuit only on your attorney’s advice.

As I said above, if you attempt to go to HR first and ask them to address your concern,  you will likely find you are being accused, sidelined and treated as the criminal, not the person who performed the misconduct. Why?

The HR team and its management is hired by the CEO and executive team. The HR manager likely reports directly to the CEO or the CFO. As a result, they take marching orders from their boss. If an employee makes an allegation against a manager or above, the CEO will want to quash this as quickly and as quietly as possible without investigation. To do this, the HR team will state they are investigating, but instead they will begin watching you, the employee who made the report closely. Even the tiniest slip or mistake will be blown way out of proportion and, you, the accuser be reprimanded. This may lead to a PIP as described above or possible immediate termination.

Basically, if you reach out to the HR team for help, you may find that it is you who are now the target against the ire of the company. Unfortunately, once the executive team paints a target on the back of an employee, it’s only a matter of time before the accuser is gone.

Throw Away Employees

Unfortunately, corporate business is cutthroat about making money and ensuring that that outcome continues. CEOs and the executive team will stop at nothing to make sure business continues as usual. The executive team is not your friend at any company. They are your boss. As a boss, they will do whatever it takes to make sure their business succeeds, regardless of what that means to you.

The only employee in any organization considered important enough to keep on the payroll is the CEO. All else are expendable… and this is especially true of troublemakers. By making an accusation of sexual misconduct against anyone, you may be labeled a troublemaker in your personnel file. If your position is easily replaced, you’ll soon be gone and they’ll fill it with someone else.

For this reason, if you’re alleging sexual misconduct, you have to make sure to legally document everything including physical evidence of it. The only way to do that is contact the police. Then, hire a lawyer. Only a person whom you are paying can help you to bring justice. The HR team has no incentive to bring justice on your behalf as they are not paid by you. The HR team has every incentive to ignore you and maintain status-quo because they are paid by and take orders from management.

Illegal Activities

Such activities are not limited to sexual misconduct. It also includes embezzlement, money laundering, insider trading, cooking the books, theft, vandalism and any other willful act by an officer of the company. If you witness any of these, you should still file a police report and then talk to a lawyer.

Skip talking to the HR team as they will only cast suspicion on you, try to turn it around on you and/or target you for termination. It is their job to kill these problems as quickly and as quietly as possible using any means necessary. Being able to get rid of problems quietly is the difference between a good and a great HR team. Don’t ever think the HR team is on your side as an employee.

HR Perks and Employee Happiness

This goes hand in hand with all of the above. Unless you’re on the management team, the HR team is not your advocate. Yes, HR is there to keep the employees happy, but only on their terms. When a non-management employee brings a problem to the attention of HR, watch your back. This means, never disclose your internal company problems to an HR team member. Sure, you can be friendly and sociable and polite, but always keep the HR team at arm’s length when discussing personal or job related matters. This also means you need to know whom is married to whom in your organization. You don’t want to vent a bunch of personal issues to a co-worker only to find out they are married to the  HR manager or an HR employee at your company. Word gets around fast in HR.

As an example, if your company offers company paid counseling as a perk, you should avoid using it. Instead, you should find your own personal counselor and pay them for those services yourself. If you disclose anything to a company paid counselor which could be misconstrued as a problem for the company, the HR team may be able to obtain this information outside of any doctor-patient privilege. Because of this, this could give the HR team ammo to terminate your employment. Always be very, very cautious when using such company sponsored counseling services. When the company is paying the bill, they may have made legal arrangements to obtain information that an employee might disclose.

This information can also be kept in your employment file and potentially used against you should the need arise. Careful what you say, particularly to company paid counseling services and to random folks around the office. Because the walls have ears, even discussing this kind of stuff during lunchtime in the break room could be overheard by someone on the HR team. It’s simpler not to discuss issues of sexual misconduct at all when on your company’s property.

Cell Phones and Employment

If your company supplies you with a cell phone for business purposes, never use it for personal reasons or to discuss personal matters. Because the company owns the equipment, they can install whatever they want on the device and potentially record and listen to your conversations. Only ever discuss these kinds of matters on a phone you own and fully control.

Because many employers now allow using your own phone device for work purposes, never relinquish your phone to the IT team or install company apps or mail on your phone. For example, installing an Exchange mail connector in Apple’s Mail app on iOS allows your company to not only set up restrictions on your phone device, preventing you from using certain functions or installing certain apps, they can also modify the device to their own will… up to and including wiping your phone entirely of data. Yes, installation of the Exchange connector to a corporate Exchange mail server hands over this level of control of your device to your employer!

Never install a company Exchange connector on Apple’s Mail app. Instead, install the Outlook app and only use it. The Outlook app does not have this level of permission to control your phone that Apple’s Mail app has and, thus, cannot modify your phone or put your phone at risk of being wiped. Better, don’t use your personal phone for company business. Request the company provide you with a phone if they need that level of control over the phone device. If they refuse the request, that’s their problem. The employer can call you and text you on your device, but that’s as far as you should let them go with your personal phone. If they provide you with a company phone, then they can set it up however they wish.

Managers and HR versus Employee

Yes, the management team and HR will gang up on you. As an employee, the HR team always takes the word of a manager over the word of the employee. This is fact. There is no such thing as justice or equality in corporate business. The HR team represents the management team without question. If, for example, you accuse a manager of sexual misconduct and that manager tells HR that the accuser made it all up, that’s where the accusation ends. Worse, the manager can then retaliate against you through the HR team’s blessing. There will be no further investigation nor will your accusation receive any further review. However, your work efforts might find undue scrutiny, micromanagement and manager meddling. If you press the point, the HR team will likely begin the sidelining and termination process at the manager’s request.

Even if the HR team requests such complaints come forward, never assume that submitting your complaint to the HR team will result in any satisfactory outcome for you. It won’t. Instead, you will need to rely on the legal system to work for you. This is the reason you should make a police report as soon after the incident as possible, preferably the same day. Visit a hospital if you are injured so they can medically help you and document your injuries. Then, find a lawyer who specializes in whatever you witnessed or experienced and talk to them about your case. If you have been assaulted or raped in the workplace, you should visit the RAINN web site or call RAINN at 1-800.656.HOPE to find out what to do next.

If you choose to try to reach out to the HR team and find that it all backfires on you, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.

Disclaimer: None of this article is intended to be construed as legal advice. If you have legal questions, you should contact an attorney near you who specializes in the crimes you have witnessed or experienced. If you are a victim of sexual assault and/or rape in the workplace, visit RAINN to find out what to do.

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