False Allegation of Slander by Third Party
A colleague of mine was suspended 2 weeks ago pending further investigations. (I have no details as to the nature of this). I was informed by another colleague this morning that he had heard privately from the suspended individual and relayed that some people from the Department may get called upon by HR as "character referees".
This afternoon I was called to HR.
Imagine my surprise when it turns out NOT to be for a character reference, but to inform me that the HR Director has made a formal complaint against me for slander; and the matter is now being investigated. (Another colleague of mine WAS called in to be a character referee).
This allegation seems to stem from a transcript of the disciplinary hearing with my
suspended colleague; where it 'appears' as though he states (verbatim) that I have said something along the lines of "The HR Director and our boss are good friends who drink together so you don't stand a chance."
Considering I didn't know he NEEDED a chance with anything, as I knew nothing about his disciplinary until about 30 seconds before he was called away to be suspended, and he didn't have time to tell me anything other than "I'm being called to a disciplinary" , this suggestion is ludicrous.
I did (some months ago) allude to our mutual boss and the HR Director being friends and sometimes drinking together - but this was in relation to something completely different and had no bearing on this current scenario.
I have had no opportunity to make the kind of comments I am alleged to have made; and nor would I anyway. If they ARE friends and/or sometimes drink together - that is no basis on which to suggest that their disciplinary choices would be any different than if they were not friends and never socialize. It would stupid to infer such a thing.
Now the transcript does make clear that it is not "verbatim" as it is apparently company policy NOT to tape record such proceedings.
Knowing that I never made such comments or suggestions; I can only assume that my
colleague has unwittingly implicated me. I can only assume he meant to say something along the lines of "Mr Z told me that Mr X and Mr Y are good friends and drink together and <therefore I (myself) assume> I have no chance".
Or, the "minute-taker" has put their own interpretation on his words - and that interpretation has unwittingly ended up implicating me. My colleague will have signed it as a true representation - but likely did not pay too much attention to the part about me and it's accuracy...
I have no direct contact with my suspended colleague, so no way of clarifying what was/was not said - to try and understand how this situation has come about.
Now - I will say, for the record: The HR Director does have good reason to dislike me; we did get embroiled in an email disagreement back in July - but I believed that was all water under the bridge now.
I can only assume he has believed as truth what the transcript appears to allege, and to some extent - I would probably be angered and frustrated by it too if I was in his position; especially with the memory of our earlier personal disagreement. Frankly, I would likely consider it too petty to even bother with though - and rise above it, but we're all different.
I am disheartened that my relationship could become further sullied with the HR Director through this ; when in actual fact I have done nothing to warrant it. In fact only a few days ago I brought up the topic in an annual appraisal with my immediate boss and outlined how I hoped for opportunities to rebuild bridges with HR.
This is not really what I had in mind; obviously!!!
So, where exactly do I stand here?
I feel in a way it is hearsay, misrepresentation, or blatant falsehood on the part of my suspended colleague - but why would he do this to me, when I have only ever been an attentive listener to his problems?
If for some reason (though I'm sure it's a mistake) he suggests I DID say this thing; how do I prove my innocence in this? It is 'within the bounds of possibility' that I could have said such a thing - and I do have a known history with the HR Director.
That said: I'm an ex-Trade Union Steward and am ALWAYS very careful in how I word any comment, replies or opinions... I'm very anal about such things, going to the nth degree to ensure what I say is not misconstrued... and now THIS!
What should I do next?
I've had a brief chat with an interim HR assistant, assigned to carry out a preliminary investigation, whereupon I have expounded on my disbelief at it all and denied it.
They're now asking for me to sign some "minutes" of that chat; before the next stage!
I'm not signing anything until I get some advice! Whilst I may now be becoming paranoid - that's not to say they're not out to get me! :-o
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