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Employees can lie, and you still cannot retaliate

If you and your company are accused of workplace discrimination, it can be a huge blow to the company's image. It hurts your brand, it influences public perception, and it can be both costly and distracting.

What makes it hurt even more is when the employee isn't telling the truth, when the accusations are baseless. Perhaps the employee misread the situation or perhaps he or she is intentionally lying. For example, an employee who was honestly demoted for poor performance may lie and say the demotion was tied to racial discrimination, age discrimination, or some other such factor.

Now, you understand that retaliation is illegal when an employee files a legitimate complaint. One key thing you should know, though, is that retaliation is also illegal when you believe the complaint is false. It can be an outright lie, and you can be infuriated about it, but you cannot retaliate in any way. Under no circumstances should you take your frustration out on the employee.

Instead, let it play out in court, if need be. Learn about your legal options. Set yourself up to clear your company's name and show the world that there was no discrimination. But do not ever retaliate against that employee by firing him or her, by reducing the employee's hours, or anything else.

Remember that the goal of these anti-discrimination regulations, from the government's perspective, is to make sure employees are willing to come forward with real complaints when the law is broken. That's not the case here, if you know the employee is lying, but employees still need to see that they're able to voice their concerns without fear.

Retaliation, whether it's intentional or not, can get you in a lot of trouble. You're best off not to take any action at all regarding the employee's position within the company. Instead, just put your time and energy into taking the issue seriously, taking the proper legal steps to rectify the situation and show you did nothing wrong, and helping the company move forward.

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