Sexual harassment in the work environment

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Sexual harassment in the work environment

I am a store manager and I had one employee whom I had to fire a week ago. We used to text each other funny stuff; there were multiple occasions where we exchanged texts with inappropriate words in them (3 occasions only) but they were friendly in nature. Now, after his termination, he is accusing me of sexually harassing him and the corporate HR office wants me to send them all texts messages between us. Should I cooperate with the HR instructions? Will that incriminate me if I do or don’t ? What are my options?

Asked on December 22, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Iowa


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You really have no options here. That is unless you are afforded protection by the terms of a union agreement or employment contract. The fact is that most work arrangements are "at will", which means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit (absent legally actionable discrimination/retaliation). Accordingly, if you do not comply with your employer's request to produce the requested texts, you can be suspended or terminated. In fact, you can be suspended/terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

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