The workplace is certainly not immune to allegations of unwanted conduct giving rise to crippling claims for compensation. Our firm has noted with concern the spike in sexual harassment and/or discrimination-based cases over the last 3 or 4 years. Even more worrying is that courts have interpreted this outpouring of complaints and the politics behind it as a change in community attitudes to this type of allegation, and it is sent damages awards skyward. For employers or employees who are subjected to these types of complaint it is very troubling because they are very easy to make and don’t require any corroboration in order to be successful. Employers can be dragged into this type of litigation not only without having engaged in any overtly harmful act, but also without even being aware that an employee was involved in any conduct which could ground a complaint. Sometimes, the same conduct alleged can result in both a criminal and workplace complaint running concurrently, bringing the prospect of convictions or even imprisonment into the frame.
Unfortunately, the consequence of being the recipient of such a complaint as either an employer or employee is that you can be roped into protracted litigation in which the complainant seeks to recover hundreds of thousands of dollars compensation from you. And this occurs in a specialist court system with its own unfamiliar procedures and rules.
At McMillan Criminal Law our approach to defending these types of allegations is the modelled on that taken in defending criminal charges. For example, we focus on the credibility the complainant because their credibility can be just as flawed as those alleged victims in criminal courts. Complainants might have criminal histories showing them to be prone to dishonesty, or their background might show them to be serial workplace complainants. In other cases, their credibility can be significantly curtailed when they offer flimsy or self-serving psychological evidence to bolster a claim for damages.
Whatever the claim, the most important first step is to refrain from engaging in any contact with the complainant without first consulting an experienced legal practitioner because every move made can be used later in any prosecution.