is it right to fire someone for being arrested for a (horrible) crime?

A reader writes:

Recently a coworker of mine failed to show up for his shift a few days in a row, and his supervisors were unable to reach him on his phone. Eventually, someone went to his home, where they were informed of the reason he hadn’t been at work — he was in jail. The company immediately fired him. The crime didn’t happen while he was on the clock, on company property, or involving any other employees.

On one hand, I get it. I live in an at-will employment state, and being accused of a crime is hardly a protected class. Additionally, this person”s role is very public-facing, and the nature of the crime he’s been accused of would make the public and his immediate coworkers very uncomfortable to have to interact with him. (The crime was rape, although I don’t know if they knew that when they fired him.)

On the other hand, I know that people do get accused of crimes they didn’t commit. He’s only been accused, not convicted It seems kind of gross to fire him when we don’t know yet if he actually committed the crime. If it turns out he didn’t do it, he would have been fired — not laid off — for a situation completely out of his control. I know the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t really apply outside the court system, but still… the whole thing kind of rubs me the wrong way.

What do you think?

Agggh, this is hard.

You’re absolutely right that it would be awful to fire someone for a crime they didn’t commit. It’s also understandable that the company doesn’t want to have an accused rapist on its payroll. Some companies handle this by suspending the person without pay until there’s been a conviction or acquittal, but then you still get news stories saying that the accused rapist is employed by CompanyName. That can be a difficult thing for a business to navigate.

It’s different, of course, with different crimes. Automatically firing anyone who’s arrested for anything is a bad practice — especially when you consider the role race plays in policing and in who gets charged with crimes and who gets given the benefit of the doubt.

It would also be illegal under federal law. The EEOC says, “Arrests are not proof of criminal conduct. Many arrests do not result in criminal charges, or the charges are dismissed. Even if an individual is charged and subsequently prosecuted, he is presumed innocent unless proven guilty. An arrest, however, may in some circumstances trigger an inquiry into whether the conduct underlying the arrest justifies an adverse employment action (emphasis mine) … The employer needs to show that the policy operates to effectively link specific criminal conduct, and its dangers, with the risks inherent in the duties of a particular position.”

In other words, you can’t fire someone simply because they were arrested, but if the conduct that led to the arrest makes the employee unfit for their position, that can be a reason for firing — for example, a trucker arrested for drunk driving. (If you’re thinking that requires the employer to act as judge and jury before an actual judge and jury have made a determination … yes.)

Some states have laws that offer employees a higher degree of protection, such as California’s law preventing employers from firing someone for an arrest that doesn’t lead to a conviction.

It’s also worth noting that sometimes someone may be fired not because of the arrest itself but because of the missed work while they’re in jail.

It’s a tough thing though. As a society, we tend to believe in “innocent until proven guilty” more in theory than in practice.

What do others think?

{ 676 comments… read them below }

  1. Ask a Manager* Post author

    Hi all. There’s some misleading stuff in some of the comments below, implying that false sexual assault accusations are more common than they actually are (and ignoring things like reasons a woman might not choose to testify, etc.). Please, no more comments suggesting false accusations of sexual assault are widespread; they are not, and comments promoting that idea will be removed.

  2. Crivens!*

    Considering the absolute rarity of false accusations of this particular crime, let alone false accusations that lead to an arrest, I’d have a hard time being objective if I knew of this and worked at the company.

    I would not want to work with someone accused or convicted of this particular crime, or any crime of that nature. I am not kidding: I would leave the company.

    1. Aggretsuko*

      Me too. I would have said to suspend him without pay, mind you, but good god, I don’t want to go back to work with a potential rapist. That’s actively unsafe.

      1. kittymommy*

        Same. Administrative leave w/o pay seems the safest bet. Maybe even with consideration of retroactive pay if the allegations turn out false??

        1. Observer*

          I think that’s perfect.

          It’s unlikely that the accusation is false, but in the (highly unlikely) event that there is evidence that the police messed up here, you’d want to make the guy as whole as you can. On the other hand, given how likely it is that there was good reason for the arrest, I totally get why the company would want to protect itself and its staff.

          1. EchoCompany*

            I sort of agree…but keep in mind, just because charges are lowered, (often for plea bargaining) and maybe someone doesn’t have a high level sexual assault conviction (rape is a very outdated term legally speaking) doesn’t mean it didn’t happen…

            Which of course doesn’t help because if you were the employer making this decision, you weren’t there, don’t know etc…I guess what I’m trying to say in short story long here is that it would really be a case by case basis for me. Which is also a moot point because I work in an industry where really even things like arrests are taken very seriously in a background check, and even if you end up not guilty, or plea to a lesser charge, someone might rightly deny you because of possible felony activity.

            1. Observer*

              Right. That’s why I didn’t say “not convicted”, but “evidence that the police were wrong”.

              It doesn’t have to be evidence that will go into court – people are entitle to draw reasonable conclusions without that level of proof.

              So, if what winds up happening is that the guy takes a plea deal, I would NOT treat that as proof that the arrest should never have happened. On the other hand, if the guy could prove that he was actually in a different place at the time the crime happened, for instance, that would be a different situation.

              1. Mookie*

                The problem with allowing our imxpert individual values to determine who ought to be favored with the benefit of the doubt is that prejudice and bias are everywhere, can be unconscious, and frequently results in unequal outcomes. What we know about the world is that there will double standards informing this approach that invariably favors the most privileged, least demonized groups.

                As for “proof,” that will require a definition that can somehow satisfy the standards of a lay person, of criminal investigators, and of the courts. Evidence can be faked by either side. The press can be lied to by representatives of defendants while investigators are hamstrung into contradicting these claims if doing so is illegal or compromises a future investigation. The public is rarely aware of the flimsiness of say, a particular alibi if accusations never make it to court for other reasons and is not privy to all aspects of an investigation. I have absolutely no faith the average employer is better at this than the people who do it for a living and the thought of them doing so is terrifying. Unless they have personal, first-hand knowledge of it, they have no business vetting and aiding criminal defenses. Handing them that power means it can be abused and used against unfavored employees to justify dismissal.

              2. Jim Bob*

                I have to ask. Why is it socially acceptable that people accused of sexual assault have a higher bar (i.e. have to prove their innocence to keep their jobs and avoid ostracization), when for literally every other crime the response is different?

                A truly just society doesn’t rely on gut reactions to determine guilt or punishment.

                1. blue*

                  Because sexual assault is a very different sort of crime than, say, a DUI, or selling drugs. (And please do not plead that you can’t see the difference as it pertains to a workplace.) And sexual assaults are massively under-reported, and the likeliness that he is innocent is very small.
                  For sexually assaulting another person. Something that would make colleagues highly uncomfortable.

                2. Jim Bob*

                  @blue

                  “Making colleagues highly uncomfortable” as cause for dismissal is just code for “we have such a visceral reaction against this particular crime that our comfort level overrides due process concerns.”

                  This may indeed be ok for certain violent crimes where likelihood of harm to others outweighs due process concerns, but this needs to be carefully considered and enshrined in law or company policy rather than based on gut reactions and social pressure.

                  As for your likelihood of innocence claim: we *really* don’t want to get into the business of guilt by statistics. That’s a slippery slope if there ever was one.

            2. Raven*

              The question is not whether or not it happened, but whether or not this guy did it. Those are two very different things, and the latter is frequently influenced by a desire for arrests and convictions with far less consideration for whether they’ve got the right person.

          2. Mookie*

            Retroactive pay for a private company seems so fraught to me. We know which crimes correlate with patently false accusations and charges, we know which falsely-accused crimes are likely to result in successful prosecutions or debilitating lengthy pre-trial detainment. Unless such a policy weights in the direction towards those kinds of charges, making an exception here and for a violent crime, particularly when sentencing for rape is so disproportionately lenient compared to even non-violent crimes and/or armed crimes, seems destined to harm all the wrong people with no material benefit for anyone but the employee. Even pretending this policy could be applied universally, what about innocent people accused of petty theft who never bail out, spend months to years jailed, and eventually see their charges dropped or reduced? The person out on bail can still earn a living elsewhere and if they could afford that bail (about 49% of all defendants charged with rape in the US) they are already financially secure above the average, and unlike other violent offenders, they are more likely to have a criminal history (who in the LW’s company knows this employee’s background, even without prior convictions) and are more predisposed to recidivism. They are prime candidates for suspended sentences and fines or plea deals in lieu of jail; these outcomes are almost always predicated on access to private and expensive legal counsel.

            Reparations for accused but formally exonerated rapists—not by the state but by their OWN EMPLOYERS not qualified to determine what is a miscarriage of justice vs an overturned conviction based only on faulty procedure rather than the merits of the case—is just peak patriarchy intersecting with a wildly stratified justice system governed by generous rules for one group that the other has no access to.

            1. Jim Bob*

              “We know which crimes…”

              This section reads like “I know which crimes are so socially unacceptable that I no longer care about due process.”

              A truly just society bases punishment for crimes on the law, not on the gut reactions of the public. Extra-legal punishment in the form of lost jobs and wages is either acceptable for all crimes or none.

              1. Jim Bob*

                Edit: or we collectively define the crimes for which economic punishment before conviction is acceptable, and enshrine those in the law.

                In no case should criminal punishment be a reaction to how the accusation makes one individual (e.g. your boss) feel.

        2. Nicole*

          This is exactly what I was thinking. Let everybody be safe but don’t punish him in the end if it turns out he’s innocent.

        3. Nic*

          I’m not too keen on the “without pay” bit. Suspension/administrative leave pending investigation, absolutely – but with pay. Because putting someone under financial pressure at a time when they’re also stressed/scared/resentful and can’t get a new job to pay for food/mortgage sounds like a recipe for disaster. It’s all very well saying “but we can give him pay retroactively if he’s found innocent”, but that doesn’t tend to work out great as a system; it’s too easy to exhaust your financial cushion in an emergency.

          Ultimately while I understand the urge to wash your hands of someone (especially when on a statistical basis you’re aware that they’re more likely to be guilty than not), I do think the company has an ethical (and possibly legal) responsibility to assume innocence of an accused employee until that legal status has officially changed. They just don’t have the luxury of acting like a private individual on that front. That doesn’t mean they treat him like everything’s normal though, because the company has to balance their responsibility to him with the more generalised responsibility to keep all employees safe from known potential dangers (which he now is).

      2. ASDFGHJ*

        Would you feel the same way if the person were accused of murder, or some other non-sexual violent crime? (Genuine question here, not trying to make a point of any kind.)

          1. Amaranth*

            I think its owed to other employees that they feel safe, and just the fact that there is enough evidence to warrant the arrest and charges would make that difficult. If they are innocent, that’s regrettable, but still doesn’t absolve the company from responsibility to everyone else. So maybe they suspend with pay pending the trial? But then, those can take months. I wonder if its better to fire — maybe for “missing days of work without notice” — but with a decent severance package.

            1. Self Employed*

              Cases can take years to go to trial. A colleague of mine is the victim of a crime and the trial won’t be till 2025.

        1. Leah K.*

          I’m not Aggretsuko, but I can honestly say “it depends”. There is just thing in my mind as justifiable homicide (ex. killing someone in self-defense). There is also such thing as negligent homicide. There is no such thing as justifiable rape. And you also don’t rape someone “accidentally”.

          1. Crooked Bird*

            And more people would rape a random person than would murder a random person. Intentional murder usually requires a motive specific to the individual(s).

        2. Observer*

          With a reasonably competent police department? Absolutely.

          The only exception in both cases is if there is god reason to believe that politics are driving the arrests rather than actual facts.

          I know of two cases where arrests were made and it became clear that the police had not done their homework. It was also quite obvious that the arrests were driven by the need to “do something” rather than actually investigate a crime.

      3. CFrance*

        I don’t understand suspending him without pay when he hasn’t been proven guilty. Why not suspend him with pay, and then if he’s convicted, fire him?

        1. Ellie*

          The business might not be able to afford to suspend him with pay, especially if a court case is months or years away. There’s a high profile case going on where I live at the moment, where the accused plays professional sports. He’s been suspended for the last two years and its only just gone to court now. A small or even medium sized business couldn’t afford to do that.

          In this case though, the company has an easy way out, since he didn’t show up to work and didn’t call or have someone else call on his behalf. That’s reasonable grounds to let someone go. I can’t blame the company for taking that.

        2. Temperance*

          Why should an accused rapist get a paid break from work, subsidized by the company? I think unpaid leave is the most fair to all of his colleagues, and to the org.

      4. Raven*

        The odds are you *do* work with a potential rapist.

        I can never forget that, when I was in college, a confidential survey of male students revealed that one out of four of them would rape a woman if they believed they could get away with it.

    2. Analyst Editor*

      I can understand why an employer would be uncomfortable keeping on staff, in a visible position, someone accused of a nasty violent crime.
      However, off the bat I can think of at least one high-profile case where the defendants were dragged through all the mud but were then found innocent, and an article on rape describing a case that was entirely made-up, and the article retracted.
      It’s hard in this case without more context. But I can imagine a situation, especially if this is part of domestic abuse accusations, especially in the context of a contentious divorce, where the situation is very murky and the just thing to do on the employer’s (and, honestly, the media’s) part is to tread with the utmost discretion and care, and not jump to conclusions.

      1. Karia*

        Yes. These cases get remembered because a) they’re extremely rare b) a misogynistic media enjoy pretending they’re the norm.

      2. Starbuck*

        I’m skeptical you’re arguing in good faith on this, because our justice system does not “find people innocent.” It finds them “not guilty” which is not the same thing.

        1. WoC*

          As a minority woman, I will say that The Innocence Project and other nonprofits have definitely found people innocent in the colloquial sense before. I’m also not sure if I’m reading into your tone too much, but considering the long history of minorities being arrested and convicted for serious crimes with minimal evidence (and often clear alibis), I don’t appreciate any insinuation that these people can’t be clearly innocent.

          1. Raven*

            Despite being clearly innocent, people aren’t found innocent by the justice system. They’re found guilty or not guilty — but the latter is not quite the same thing. “We can prove he did it” or “we can’t prove he did it” but not “he didn’t do it.”

            Consider the case of Victoria Banks, if you want an example of the conviction of an innocent person. She was accused of killing her newborn baby … a baby who could not have existed, because Victoria Banks had had a tubal ligation four years before, and the blockage was later confirmed with dye. Yet she, her husband, and her sister were charged with capital murder, and plea-bargained to manslaughter to save their lives.

    3. Anon for Now*

      Yeah, that’s a situation a friend of mine found herself in. It was a very credible accusation and she couldn’t have worked for the company anymore if they’d kept him on. They believed he didn’t do it, but they still let him go to avoid blow back from their community.

    4. Retired worker bee*

      I know a man who was arrested in 1975 for assault and rape of a woman who worked in his office building. He spent one night in jail and was promptly fired from his job. I don’t know if his family contacted his company to say that he wouldn’t be coming in.

      Eleven months later, the case was dismissed, as the woman who accused him refused to testify against him. His father told him to insist on a trial, so that he could be found not guilty, but he allowed the charges to be dropped, since his mother was suffering very badly from the situation. Nowadays he is sorry that he allowed the charges to be dropped, because his record shows that he was arrested and accused, not that he was acquitted, because he wasn’t acquitted. The newspaper article discussing the charges being dropped mentioned that no one in the office building heard any kind of commotion during the time the assault and rape were supposed to have taken place.

      I knew this man for several years before the time that this incident was supposed to have taken place, and I did not think that he was capable of this crime. Even though it happened in 1975, he still hasn’t gotten over it.

      1. Arvolin*

        You do realize that there are lots of reasons why a rape survivor might not want to testify, right? That’s not an indication of innocence.

        1. JSPA*

          I don’t get the sense that Retired Worker Bee is basing their perceptions on the lack of testimony, so much as on the fact that over 40 years later, the accused still wishes he had gone to trial.

          It’s possible for the rape to be 100% real, and the rapist to be mis-identified.

          Can’t find the case right now (or more like, I’m having to nope out of wading through the nastiness, to search for it) but in one (fairly recent?) case, I believe the correct ID of a rapist was only made based on the genotype of the resulting child, with the wrong man behind bars for years.

          Sometimes it’s indeed “That one creepy guy.” Other times, it’s the person nobody suspects, and the badly socialized guy with crap boundaries takes the fall.

          1. Too Many*

            According to RAINN, most rapists are known to their victims. So what you’re describing is rare.

            I hope anyone reading this will really think about how they’re contributing to the wider conversations about this issue. As this thread and others demonstrate, so, so many victims experience ongoing trauma and never get justice for the crime against them. The original post here showcases common misunderstandings about rape – that false accusations are common (they’re not), that the act would be violent and loud (many people panic or go into survivor mode, or are unconscious, or a million other things that might not make the incident what you might think it would be), that otherwise ok people wouldn’t do this (it’s so, so common, and many, many people have poor understandings of consent and boundaries).

            Anyone accused deserves due process, and nothing I say is meant to take away from that. But instead of focusing on the rare whatifs, as this comment does, we’d do a lot more for everyone if we focused on changing the narrative to encourage broad understanding of how sexual assault and the aftermath actually happen — how power, fear, trauma, survivalism, and so much more — play into it. We should focus on mitigating the harm that so many people have to live with: they were not only violated in a way no one ever should be, and then facing the equal hells of seeking justice or not. We should focus on what we’re saying to our young people when we discount rape victims’ stories and rush to defend those accused–we’re saying, if someone violates you, you’re not safe to report it; if you violate someone, we’ll treat it like it’s not the horrible breach of humanity that it is. We can do much better by current victims and more to prevent future victims and perpetrators. Where we put our attention matters.

            1. Anon Lawyer*

              Eh, this is not wrong but it’s incomplete. There’s two things going on here – one, yes, rape victims have been treated horribly by the criminal justice system. But two, men of color in particular have been convicted of crimes like rape and murder and spent decades behind bars only to be exonerated by DNA evidence. It’s actually not that uncommon. And yes, most rapists are known to their victims – but in any given case we usually have enough facts to know whether the cops might have arrested a convenient marginalized person or whether they have arrested someone specifically IDed by the victim.

            2. JSPA*

              I’m not suggesting a mysterious interloper, though. I’m suggesting that it was (for example) Tom, the pleasant fellow in sales who’s at the home office twice a month, not Jimbo who spit-talks, stands too close, stares, and wears (say) too much bay rum aftershave.

              Both of them known.

              There are plenty of scenarios where the person attacked doesn’t see the attacker, and it’s easy to go from “the smell of bay rum,” and “Jimbo who makes people feel uncomfortable,” and “Jimbo was working late too,” and not notice that Tom-who-isn’t-creepy also happened to be there that day, and also sometimes uses bay rum aftershave.

              1. JSPA*

                Or more simply: “being someone known to” and “was seen clearly at the point of the attack” are not the same thing.

                Emphasizing “Known” is meant to push back against the idea that most attacks are by strange drooling shaddowy figures hiding behind buildings and dumpsters and trees, intending to snatch random targets. As opposed to Tom, who works where you do.

            3. OP*

              Too Many, I understand your point, but I think you missed mine. I wasn’t making the claim that false accusations of rape are common. I was recognizing that there are a non-zero number of false *arrests* for any crime. I actually didn’t even include what the crime was in my original question – I only added that when Alison asked for that information. My question wasn’t about whether *this guy* should have been fired after being arrested for rape, but whether employers in general should fire employees who have been arrested before finding out whether they are actually guilty of that crime.

              1. Too Many*

                OP – I meant Retired Worker Bee’s post when I said original post – totally my fault. I was a little uncomfortable with, in this post and elsewhere in life, what I see as a tendency to rush to defend the hypothetical accused, finding all the “what ifs.” In my experience, I’ve found that a LOT of people do not understand how sexual assault ‘works,’ and make really damaging statements because of it. These ideas make it harder for victims to come forward and contribute to an environment where sexual assault will continue to be all too pervasive. I work in education, and I can’t help but think about how the words we choose build an environment that others have to grow up in and live in. Even when the “what ifs” have truth to them, I think it’s still important to think about what we highlight. (And I also recognize that these issues are intersectional and I don’t mean to discount the disparate affects of both assault and the criminal justice system on marginalized people, and will shut up and listen when it comes to that.)

                In other words, I meant nothing against your post and I’m sorry that it came across that way!

            4. Raven*

              “If you violate someone…” throw the book at the criminal. But until someone has been convicted, we don’t know if they’re actually a criminal. Let’s say he was arrested for, oh, robbing a bank. Are you saying that if he is not punished by his employer, and his community, before his trial, this is unfair to the bank staff and customers who were threatened, or that we’re discounting their stories, because we have this strange insistence on having a trial before the punishment instead of the other way around?

              People *do* falsely accuse people they know of crimes. Maybe not often, but it does happen. I’m thinking of a case around here a while back where a guy accused his semi-ex-girlfriend of stealing his car. It turned out that he’d loaned her the car, but he got mad because he thought she was going to see some other guy. And more often, people *do* accuse the wrong person, especially when the police are being pressured to “do something” and present a lineup, or mugshots, in a leading fashion. Remember, their goal is an arrest and a conviction, not the truth. That’s why arrests are not convictions. That’s why we have trials.

          2. Too Many*

            Most rapes are committed by people who know their victims. Look at RAINN.

            RWB’s comment showcases common misunderstandings about rape that, frankly, are tired. We should be better as a whole about understanding how sexual assault (and harassment) and its aftermath actually happens. It’s not always loud–people freeze, they go into survivor mode, they’re struggling to process what is even happening, they’re too frightened to confront a (often physically larger, often powerful in various ways) attacker. Assaulters–and many others–don’t understand consent and boundaries. Reporting and prosecuting is as harrowing and re-traumatizing as not doing so.

            When we rush to find the ‘whatifs’ that would aid the accusers instead of the victims, we show people who we care about. We tell young people–if you’re violated, we might not believe you or help you; if you violate someone, we don’t think it’s the horrible trespass against humanity that it is.

            When this conversation comes up, please keep in mind that everywhere there are people who have been victimized who never see justice, who have to carry this burden of profound unfairness.

            Due process should happen, of course. But please think next time about piling on to the “I am a safe person to talk to if you’re attacked, I’m building safe communities to prevent future attacks, and I’m building my own understanding of consent and assault and sharing that info” camps instead of the “here’s a rare possible exception and by giving attention to it I might be intentionally or not treating it like its more common than it is and thus weakening the support for victims” camp.

            1. Raven*

              It is not inconsistent with preventing future attacks to believe that we should wait to punish people until after they’re convicted of crimes.

              A person who has lost his job, his house, and his reputation because of an accusation of a crime that another person was eventually convicted of is a victim, too. The difference is that there’s nobody willing to stand up for him, because he was accused of something awful, so he must be guilty of something, and he should be punished … even if *someone else* did it.

              1. Paperwhite*

                And this is one of the arguments often used to dissuade people from reporting sexual assault. “You’ll Destroy his LIFE!” I should hope this is not how you would advise someone who came to you seeking help after being assaulted, but it probably is.

                1. Too Many*

                  Yep. Plus, it doesn’t hurt our justice system to focus more attention on the heartbreakingly vast injustice of assaults happening without consequences.

                2. J. Johnson*

                  Or maybe there is a middle ground between “don’t accuse someone of a crime because they might suffer the consequences” and “an accusation alone is proof of guilt.”
                  This isn’t about how to advise someone seeking help, but what if anything employers owe employees who haven’t been convicted (or even charged).

      2. Too Many*

        I know women who have been raped, and dropped the charges because the process of coming forward itself was so traumatizing that they’d rather just move on than get justice. I know women who have been raped without an audible commotion happening. I know women who have been raped by people who others believed were not capable of rape. I know way too many of these stories.

        If you’re out there and something has happened and you’re not receiving support or being believed, I’m so sorry. Know that there are people out here who care and believe you and believe in the sanctity of your ownership over your body.

        1. Sasha*

          I was raped by a stranger. Literally dragged off the street at knifepoint, and made so much noise screaming that he was caught red-handed by the police. I still considered dropping the charges, at many different points – the point where I was having an extremely painful internal examination to get samples, when still traumatised, dirty and bleeding from the rape. The point where I had to spend eight hours going over and over the story with the police to get a statement. The point where I waited six months for it to go to court, and then the trial collapsed because of a juror problem. The second trial six months after that, when I was just putting my self back together. The two days of cross-examination about my favourite sexual position and knicker colour.

          And everyone believed me. The police believed me, my husband believed me, my friends and family believed me, everyone. I had so much support. I cannot imagine how hard it must be to go through all that knowing that the police think you’re a time-waster and half of your friends think you are a lying slut ruining a good man’s life.

          1. Ellie*

            I’m so sorry. Thank you so much for going through that – its brave people like you who are our only defense against a broken system.

          2. Anon for Today*

            “The two days of cross-examination about my favourite sexual position and knicker colour.” I’m so angry for you. I hope that lawyer stubs his pinky toe every Tuesday for the rest of their life. I hope you are well.

      3. BuildMeUp*

        I’m so confused by this. In addition to the points made by the other people responding to you, as far as I know there’s no way in the legal system for the accused to decide whether the case goes forward. It’s just not an option.

        I hope you understand, as well, that nothing you’ve said in your comment in any way proves this man’s innocence. There are many people out there – including and often especially rapists – who no one imagines could be capable of the crimes they’ve committed.

        1. Janeway-Chakotay '24*

          as far as I know there’s no way in the legal system for the accused to decide whether the case goes forward.

          Exactly; this is up to the DA, not the accused (or the accuser, for that matter).

        2. Sal*

          This may not be true if you take into account colloquial language and regional differences. In NYC, a defendant could decide whether or not to accept a disposition called an ACD (adjournment in contemplation of dismissal). If it was rejected, the case would continue if the DA didn’t actually dismiss the charges. I believe the DA’s office in question didn’t count an ACD as a loss, internally, but actually moving to dismiss was taking an L.

          1. doreen*

            It’s still not up to the defendant – an ACD may require the defendant’s agreement, but if the DA moves to dismiss the case due to the lack of a witness there is no way for the defendant to insist on a trial ( it may theoretically be possible for the judge to refuse to dismiss the case, but I’ve never heard of it)

          2. Observer*

            It doesn’t matter if he agreed to and ACD – he was not in the position to “insist on a trial”. Even today, the odds of a prosecutor bringing a case to trial without the testimony of the victim is almost nill. In the 1970? Not a chance. The DA was ABSOLUTELY going to dismiss that case.

            1. EchoGirl*

              The one possibility from where I’m looking at it is that somewhere in the process of him agreeing to the dismissal, he got the idea that he was fully in control of the outcome when he really wasn’t (even my very scant legal experience has taught me that a lot of people misunderstand how these things work). However, that says nothing about the larger issue of whether he did or didn’t do it.

        3. JSPA*

          Presumably this means that without cooperation from the victim, the DA had a weaker case, and offered a plea bargain.

          1. Retired worker bee*

            No, no plea bargain was offered. The DA just said that he was dropping the charges, since the woman showed up for the trial but told the DA that she wouldn’t testify. The guy told me that his father wanted him to insist on a trial so that he could be found not guilty. I wasn’t there, so all I know is what the guy told me and what I read in the newspaper. The newspaper article said that the charges were dropped. It didn’t say anything about a plea bargain. Without the woman’s cooperation, the DA didn’t have a weaker case – it had NO case.

      4. Hurt, angry, and Anonymous*

        Your comment doesn’t say that the woman admitted to lying, only that she refused to testify against him. That doesn’t mean rape didn’t take place.
        I was semi-regularly molested from age 6 to 14 by a family member. I refused to name the family member during any of the therapy sessions I had beginning at age 15 because I was scared that I would have to see this person again in court. There are literally only a handful of people who know who this person is. My own mother doesn’t know. It doesn’t mean that he’s innocent or that it didn’t happen. It just means that I was (and still am!) scared of this person. Nobody heard, saw, or even knew that this shit was going on, even when there were people literally sitting in the next room talking where I could hear them through the closed door. Your argument about his innocence holds zero water.

        Signed,
        A survivor who is sick of victims being blamed while awful people are presumed innocent and get a slap on a wrist!

      5. Observer*

        The guy is not telling the truth. Obviously I don’t know what happened. But his claim that he “allowed” the charges to be dropped is just nonsense. The defendant in these cases does NOT get a choice.

        The fact that no one remembered hearing a “commotion” means nothing – for a number of reasons (including the fact that not every rape is noisy!). And the idea that this woman must have been lying because you “know” that this person was “capable” of this crime is just arrogant.

      6. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

        There’s also the very real fact that a lot of people don’t make a “commotion” when being assaulted because either 1) the freeze up response to trauma is real and/or 2) they don’t want to be murdered or beaten in addition to being raped.

      7. falseRapeAccusationsAreRare*

        – Testifying against your rapist can be a deeply traumatizing event – to the point where many have described it as being violated all over again. Unless she explicitly withdrew her accusation, not testifying is not an indicator of this man’s innocence.
        – As a society, we do not treat women (even those considered a ‘model’ victim) who testify against their assailants well, let alone almost 50 years ago, and often let convicted rapists off with laughably soft sentences, so I think you have oversimplified your conclusions.
        – Based on your account of the article mentioning that “no one in the office building heard any kind of commotion during the time the assault and rape were supposed to have taken place,” I think you’re trying to assert that a lack of witnesses hearing something means nothing happened or what might have happened wasn’t a crime? While we’re conditioned to think of people having a “fight or flight” response (and as such, either response would create a ‘commotion’), that’s not always the case. I begged my assailant to stop and never consented, but my body eventually froze. You can read up on the science of it here: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/modern-trauma/201805/why-women-freeze-during-sexual-assault or in a huge number of other medical publishings.
        – You say “I did not think that he was capable of this crime” -> Ted Bundy was described as a “very nice person” and someone “you’d want your sister to marry.” Predators and abusers are often incredibly adept at presenting a charismatic, polished, thoughtful exterior. Being able to present themselves in this way does not make them a good person or lessen their ability to commit heinous acts.

        To be clear – I’m not trying to say your friend is guilty. I’m saying that the account you provided does not prove his innocence the way you seem to think it does.

        1. Tiny Soprano*

          Australian domestic violence advocate Nicole Lee literally had a judge call her abusive husband something to the effect of a lovely calm man AS HE WAS BEING SENTENCED for ten years worth of rape and abuse. It’s never in offenders’ interests to appear evil. In their minds they aren’t. But if we buy into the myth that the only men who rape are overtly evil, we’re ignoring the reality of so many victims who are dismissed as ‘crazy’ or ‘vengeful’ or ‘slutty’ while the actual perpetrators get away with being a ‘nice guy’ apropos of nothing.

          1. Raven*

            That’s true of *any* criminals, from shoplifters to murderous dictators.

            We like to think that monsters have horns and fangs. That they don’t look like us. That they’re not one of us. That we can identify them. That we won’t hire them, marry them, vote for them.

            But monsters look like us. Monsters *are* like us. And the worst ones are the nicest-seeming ones, because they can get away with their crimes, whether against a single individual or a whole nation, the easiest and for the longest.

            1. Self Employed*

              There was a rape case in San Diego a while ago. The suspect’s coworkers talked about what a nice guy he was and they knew he couldn’t do something like that. Except there was allll kinds of actual evidence he did it.

              And nobody interviewed me, because it had been over a decade since I worked in his department (he was my grandboss). I had never said anything to HR about him sneaking up behind me and touching my hair while I was running blueprints, because it only happened once. I have a strong startle response, and he was not expecting me to jump a foot out of my skin and screech like a banshee. It was just “that weird thing that happened” and I honestly didn’t think of it much till I saw Dave on the news and all my former coworkers talking about what a great guy he was. (Yeah, the “great guy” who never pitched in when we had mandatory overtime and even made a big deal about how he had to host a BBQ with his fancy new grill and that’s why he couldn’t help his engineers meet the big deadline.)

      8. Ellie*

        I really hope it is not possible for an accused rapist to ‘insist’ on a trial, as that would result in a likely victim being forced through the court system, be called a liar, etc. and having to face the person who attacked them, by the person who attacked them. That would be a horrific thing to do to anyone, let alone a victim of sexual assault.

        And for the record, I’d be far more willing to give someone who was arrested for rape and then later released with no action the benefit of the doubt, than I would to someone who’d been through court and acquitted. Going to court means there was evidence, its rare for genuine rape cases to get that far, let alone the very few false ones.

      9. Lyra Silvertongue*

        I think it’s really important to think about what you’re saying here. An accused person cannot drop charges. A newspaper article is not a reliable source of much as a standalone source, but particularly regarding rape in the ’70’s… Your perception of someone does not speak to whether they are capable of this or not. Rape does not have to be loud. This entire comment is based on one thing: you know the man accused, but not the woman accusing.

      10. Banana Pancakes*

        No one has ever met my father and said, “This seems like a guy who would sexually abuse and traffic his own children” but that’s what happened. These people are even better at grooming allies than they are at grooming their victims.

    5. Former call centre worker*

      I wouldn’t necessarily leave the company but I would not be working closely with that person, being alone with them or being first or last in the office unless I knew of some strong evidence they didn’t do it. It’s not worth my personal safety to rely on the miniscule chance that it was a false allegation.

    6. Caroline Bowman*

      I fall into the camp generally of believing the victims, and yes of course false accusations are not common, but they do happen and I’d definitely be of a mind to hear the story before summarily dumping a job over it.

      Rape is hard to prove, which is appalling, but people do accuse others of sexual crimes regularly for all kinds of reasons. People get onto sexual predator registries for urinating in a park near a school. It’s definitely a thing. Are you saying you’d immediately shun anyone accused of anything in this category of crimes with no further thought?

      1. Crivens!*

        One can look up people on sex offender lists and see that they’re there for a violent offense, which is when I would quit, yes.

        One can also see if they’re there for ridiculous reasons like public urination, which would just make me sympathetic to them for being put on the list for such a thing.

        1. Anonymouse*

          One can also see if they’re there for ridiculous reasons like public urination, which would just make me sympathetic to them for being put on the list for such a thing.

          If you can’t help but urinate in public then maybe it is time to talk to your doctor about continence issues. Absent medical issues that you need to manage like an adult and talk with a doctor (and I say this as a person who does have continence issues due to nerve damage), adult public urination shows a lack of understanding of what is appropriate, a self absorbed and blatant disregard for other people or a desire to make other people uncomfortable. To be completely honest you’re the idiot who chose to urinate in public and you deserve the consequences.

          1. Sal*

            Whoa, this bespeaks a real callousness to the collateral consequences of a conviction. Public urination is gross (IM-comes-from-a-certain-cultural-context-O), but I can think of like a dozen things off the top of my head that should be criminalized before it. And sex offender registration can be incredibly onerous. You sound really, really out of touch with the realities of the criminal justice system.

          2. Julianna*

            You think people deserve to have their lives ruined because they made a harmless mistake? That seems a little extreme.

            1. Autumnheart*

              Strangely, this logic never seems to apply to someone who, say, goes to a bar and gets their drink roofied. Then it’s “Well, you should have known better.”

              1. Idril Celebrindal*

                Yup, and oddly enough, millions of people manage to not “accidentally” make the conscious choice to expose themselves and urinate in public. It’s not like they are going “oops, I thought I was inside a restroom stall, but somehow I ended up outside next to a playground where a lot of kids are, oh no, however did that happen!”

                1. Anonymouse*

                  Its kid of like the arguments about the guy who masturbated during a work zoom call–so many people were calling it a harmless accident–no there is nothing “accidental” about unzipping your pants to masturbate.

            2. Anonymouse*

              You don’t urinate in public by mistake, unless it is pants on which is not going to get you charged.

              1. Self Employed*

                I live in a metro downtown area near a state college. Apparently before the pandemic it was “a thing” to walk out of a fancy nightclub and urinate on the front of the building, nearby public art, etc. I think I saw an obviously non-homeless tech bro or frat boy p***ing on something at least once a week when I was walking past the clubs from TechShop back in 2016-17.

                One of my neighbors would have “work on cars” parties in our underground parking garage and the dudes would all urinate in a corner in someone else’s parking space, hidden from the security cameras. Everyone assumed it was unhoused people sneaking into the garage until the person in the adjacent spot caught them in the act when he pulled up to his space.

                I don’t know why it seems to be OK here.

          3. moql*

            As someone who actually does have a bladder condition that means sometimes I have no warning you are completely out of line. It took 10 years before a doctor was able “fix” me. I peed my pants in public multiple times running for a bathroom and at one point did duck behind some bushes on campus because I knew there was no way I would make it. I am super lucky that I wasn’t arrested, but I would do the same thing again.

            Or do you think people with medical problems should never leave the house again?

            1. Anonymouse*

              Did you read what I said?

              If you can’t help but urinate in public then maybe it is time to talk to your doctor about continence issues. Absent medical issues that you need to manage like an adult and talk with a doctor

              You don’t urinate in public by mistake, unless it is pants on which is not going to get you charged.

              I am an adult with continence problems because of nerve damage that isn’t “fixable” it is only managed.

              If you know you have an issue with continence and might have an accident/emergency and can’t get to a bathroom in time then use incontinence products. This is part of managing incontinence.

          4. Dahlia*

            You’re ignoring the very real issue of homelessness. Not everyone has access to public bathrooms. In fact, especially during COVID, previous sites like libraries where homeless people could use a bathroom are closed. Many urban settings don’t have bathrooms that you don’t have to purchase something to use.

            1. Anonymouse*

              You’re right–I was not taking into account homelessness. I do advocate for better/more homeless resources so that people are not left in a situation where they don’t have access to bathrooms. I amend my statement–I don’t think public urination is appropriate ever BUT there is other work that needs to be done to address homelessness before it can be enforced.

              1. Shenandoah*

                There’s a huge chasm between “not appropriate” and “deserving of being put on the same list as rapists/etc.”

                Not everything that’s bad is criminal!

          5. Well Then*

            The people who are most often harmed by public urination being classed as a sex offense are homeless individuals, who by definition lack reliable access to bathroom facilities.

          6. scrips*

            How severe of a punishment, though? Whatever the current book of law dictates? Do you seriously believe someone should be labeled a sex offender for public urination, an act that is not sexual at all?

          7. JSPA*

            Written like a 100% able-bodied person with a large bladder, no older friends or family members, who only ever goes to areas where there are plenty of restaurants and shops and gas stations with toilets. And you must further be rich enough and well-dressed enough that you’re accommodated, when your bladder needs accommodation.

            Enjoy it while it lasts; age comes for all of us.

            1. Anonymouse*

              You also apparently didn’t read what I said in my post. The pertinent part:
              “If you can’t help but urinate in public then maybe it is time to talk to your doctor about continence issues. Absent medical issues that you need to manage like an adult and talk with a doctor (and I say this as a person who does have continence issues due to nerve damage)”

              I am an adult with bladder incontinence due to spinal damage. I’ve been managing it for decades.

          8. Raven*

            Consequences:

            – being fired from your job
            – being essentially unemployable afterwards
            – being prohibited from living in most places
            – being prohibited, in some cases, from associating with your own children
            …and a lot more.

            …consequences for getting drunk and peeing in the shrubbery.

            For the love of all that’s holy, we don’t do that to people convicted of hurting other people!

    7. Quill*

      The problem is that, historically, when there are false accusations in the US, they’ve usually been racially motivated. So it’s probably a good idea to wait – after all, he’s not going to be back until he’s tried.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        If he makes bail then (if he hadn’t been fired) he could return to work. Accused are not always locked up until their trial. Held in jail until trail should in fact be a very rare situation for people expected to flee or a danger to others.

        1. Captain Kirk*

          Aren’t you less likely to make bail if you’re a POC? I thought that’s been one of the issues is that bail is used as a way to perpetuate racism because whites can make bail and go back to work…

          1. Quill*

            Let’s not forget that when bail is set it can vary wildly based on the public opinion of the person bail is being set for…

            1. PhyllisB*

              Very true. My son is currently in jail for a misdemeanor shoplifting charge. The bail is not much but we can’t bond him out because we live out of state and they would require us to pay the full amount. We can’t do that. He is homeless right now, so can’t get out on his on own recognizance. His trial isn’t until March.
              He was advised by his court-appointed attorney to plead not guilty. If he had pled guilty he probably would have already served his time and been out.

              1. JSPA*

                That’s rough! Is there no reciprocity between bail bondsmen in different states, or a parents’ network, able to help out?

              2. Not So NewReader*

                Oh my.
                I think they will probably consider time served once everything is decided. But, still…..

                NY (before Covid) was targeting the right to speedy trial, so it’s in the news a lot here. This has been many, many months for him. I am betting they have blown right by any speedy trial time frame.

          2. Anon for Today*

            Depends on how high bail is set and whether you can get a bondsman to help you if needed. If I was charged and my bail was set at $10,000, no way could I meet that even as a white person. However, I may be able to meet the conditions of bond (a percentage of the total bail, IIRC). A POC, might not be able to meet that either.

        2. Quill*

          To be fair the circumstances of who gets held and how long for which crimes are going to vary pretty wildly by location.

          So I amend my statement to “They might want to wait to make the firing official, but they should absolutely not be letting him back in the premises in the meantime.”

    8. Sleepytime Tea*

      “…invest some time understanding the nuances of consent…”

      THIS. The man who raped me while I was unconscious (so… I guess I technically didn’t say no until I woke up, but I feel extremely confident that unconscious people can’t consent) literally said to me “I never hurt you” and “I would never rape someone.” Rapists don’t always think they’re rapists.

          1. (insert name here)*

            Yep. My college roommate whined about how he was falsely accused of rape and then in the same breath, proceeded to explain how he raped someone. He was so sure he was innocent that he described the rape to two other women in a “take pity on me tone”.

            My other female roommate was planning to go to law school after undergrad. She busted out a text book to explain rape to him, which was awesome. “So she said no?” “Yes” “Repeatedly” “well, yes” “And then she never actually said yes, but you decided that she wanted to have sex with you so you just had sex with her” “I guess so” “That’s rape.” “But she changed her mind.” “How do you know? Did she tell you she changed her mind? Like with words?” “No.” “So you just assumed she changed her mind because who wouldn’t want to have sex with you?” “I guess so”

            It made for a real uncomfortable living situation for the next 4 months. Glad I had a lock on my bedroom door. I was not home a lot and never alone with that guy again.

        1. EchoGirl*

          I can’t locate the article at the moment, but I think there was a study done that showed that a surprising number of people (potentially men? can’t remember demographic details) would admit that they would do things that would be legally considered rape as long as the word “rape” was not actually used to describe the action.

          1. Raven*

            I know that in the early 80s, one in four male college students surveyed at my school would do things that would legally be considered rape even *if* the word “rape” was used to describe the action. It was actually used in the (anonymized) survey, and 1 in 4 would commit rape.

            1. EchoGirl*

              It was much more recent than that. There were still a startling number (although I don’t think it was quite that high) in the study who admitted they would commit rape even when it was defined as such, but that number increased significantly (like, almost double IIRC) when the word was taken out of the conversation.

      1. Totally Minnie*

        I’ve read an actual study on this. Men will admit to having had sex with women who didn’t want to have sex with them, or being willing to do that, as long as no one is calling it rape.

      2. EchoCompany*

        Yes! this happened to a friend of mine! She had consented to the point where he did penetrate her, but then almost immediately she said stop, and ended her part of the activity. He hesitated briefly, but then continued anyway, at which point she chose the freeze option of fight/flee/freeze, and things ended poorly.

        Even she struggled with acknowledging it was rape for a few years because she had consented to a point, and he is otherwise a “normal” person, and not some creep out of a scary movie. Unfortunately, no means no, and that message didn’t get through.

        She did try to confront him about it later on, and he definitely didn’t grasp why it was wrong. The good news for this story, is that her acknowledging it led to a lot of healing for her.

    9. Anon for Now*

      Thank you for this. It’s not that false accusations never happen – and certainly I want due process for everyone – but it’s much more likely to be true than it is to be false.

      1. Raven*

        It’s much more likely that you’ll get nothing when you fill out one of those surveys on receipts than you’ll get the $25 Amazon gift card.

        I won one two weeks ago, and then I won a $25 gift certificate at a store this past weekend.

        It’s more likely to be true than false, and I’m more likely to win nothing than win something. “More likely” is not the same thing as “certain”. (and I’m still boggled by winning not once, but twice!)

    10. Viva*

      Agreed. I work in the food service industry. Many of our employees are minors. We had an adult employee arrested for sexual abuse of a minor slightly younger than the children we employ. We fired him. (His court case is still ongoing 2+ years later.) I just do not see how we could have ethically allowed him to continue working around children.

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Yes! This is not an episode of CSI or law and order. Things don’t get neatly wrapped up quickly. Especially right now, when courts are even more delayed than normal, it could be years before there is a verdict on this.

      2. Woah*

        Yup. In human services and teaching, similar reaction. We work with kids and vulnerable people.

        Its one of the reasons I gave up fostering teenagers- too many of my teenage placements were involved with police and I felt like I was on the verge of losing my license because of my proximity. It just felt too close.

    11. Troutwaxer*

      I think we need to subdivide “false accusation” into two subcategories. The first is “deliberate false accusation by a purported victim” and the second is “accused by police because of race/proximity/resemblance etc.” The first is very rare, the second isn’t so hard to imagine.

      Leaving the issue of rarity aside, the possibility that someone is a victim of the first kind of false accusation can also be understood according to the motivations of the accuser – is the accusation by an ex-wife with whom one is having a nasty custody battle? Or is the accusation by someone who’s a relative stranger who doesn’t have any obvious motivation for the accusation? Once some of the details are known it isn’t hard to classify the accusation and for HR to behave appropriately in terms of “suspended without pay” and “fired.”

      1. Crivens!*

        I’d be MORE likely to believe an accuser who was an ex-wife in a nasty custody battle. Most rapes are acquaintance rapes, and I’d for sure fight tooth and nail to get my kids away from a rapist.

        1. Troutwaxer*

          That might very well be true. All I’m saying is that it’s reasonable for HR to learn about the facts and make decisions on that basis.

      2. Watry*

        There’s also a third category–true accusation considered false because victim was disbelieved, experienced harassment, was afraid, etc, and refused to testify or cooperate with investigation.

        1. Crivens!*

          Yup. I know my accusation would have been dismissed because of one or all of those things, so I didn’t bother to report.

      3. OP*

        The accusation definitely wasn’t motivated by any complicated relationship. This was date rape on a blind date. The crime also didn’t happen very recently. The “date” was set up through a dating service, over the summer. I’m sure their records were used to verify his identity, and there’s probably a very good case against him.

        He’s also a white guy, for what it’s worth.

        1. Person from the Resume*

          This helps my own understanding of the situation. Since he’s accused of date rape, fellow employees are unlikely to be in danger. And it’s also unlikely a case of mistaken identity, but rather a he said/she said case if he even goes to trial.

          OTOH the business decision of we don’t want to employ an accused rapist in a high-profile role stands.

          1. Cat Lady*

            Actually, one myth busted when cities were forced to clear their backlog of untested rape kits was the idea that date rapists and stranger rapists were separate beasts. What they found was that generally rapists are rapists and sometimes they rape people they know in addition to people they don’t know.
            You wouldn’t make this distinction with a pedophile , ie “he only rapes children he’s related to so he’s safe around other kids.”

      4. fmrinvestigator*

        Removed. Please do not be dismissive about the very real role of racism in our criminal justice system. – Alison

    12. Cat Tree*

      Yeah, it’s extremely rare to get a conviction even for crimes that absolutely happened, and not just for sexaul crimes. Many crimes don’t even make it to the point of arrest, let alone a jury trial. It’s so hard to get a true case taken this seriously, that it would be extremely rare for a fake case to get to this point unless there’s something else at play (such as race). One of my college classmates was a rapist, and I was tangentially involved in the case as a witness. The police questioned him but he was never arrested. The amount of evidence required for the DA to even attempt a trial has a very high threshold. It’s not impossible that this man is innocent, but highly unlikely.

      Also, an acquittal doesn’t actually mean someone is innocent. My abusive father eventually escalated to murder, years after I had cut off all contact with him. He was acquitted, and he’s exactly as innocent as OJ Simpson.

    13. Mimimi*

      Police don’t arrest someone for sexual assault w/o evidence — and forensics these days provide plenty of that. They’re used to interrogating people, too, so it requires Oscar-worthy acting to fool them. Many who lie think they can “act” and they can’t.

      1. Raven*

        Victoria Banks, after hours of police interrogation, confessed to murdering her newborn baby.

        A baby who could not have existed, as Victoria Banks had had a tubal ligation 4 years before, and several years later, a dye test showed that it remained complete.

        Never mind convincing the police you’re innocent when you’re guilty — she couldn’t even convince the police she was innocent when she was innocent!

    14. Lora*

      A horrible thought just occurred to me:

      I’ve definitely worked with many, many harassers and guys who put their hands on me and other women. They were AT MOST told “now, Director, tee-hee, we know boys will be boys, please don’t do it again, Lora is SENSITIVE” and then I got a lecture on the importance of toughening up and not being a baby and was labeled a troublemaker / loose cannon. That has happened at a few jobs to me directly, and several other jobs for friends, and the only time the dude got fired for it was when there was a woman boss in charge. I wasn’t usually allowed to *stop working directly* with a harasser, it was always on me to quit or transfer to get away from him, and there was a lot of attitude that I was being extraordinarily precious about it too.

      It would surprise me exactly 0% if some of these guys turned out to be actual rapists who went around assaulting women on a Friday night pub crawl with their buddies. Statistically, working in several large companies with many thousands (sometimes hundreds of thousands) of employees, I have definitely worked with more than one rapist. I mean, now that I think about it and do the math – maybe even at least one murderer / manslaughterer, because in multiple companies of over 100,000 employees over 30 years, yeah, that’s possible.

      So let’s say you are Head of HR, and something like this happens – guy is accused of rape and arrested, and has a paper trail at your company previously documenting his misbehaviors, at what point do you HAVE to fire him because now you have failed to protect the other employees and placed them in an unsafe working environment? I mean, in _Gift of Fear_ one of the really great points deBecker makes is, these things don’t happen in a fking VACUUM, there are several steps that happen before a person gets to the point of doing violence, and by observing these things we can predict a high likelihood of violent behavior – it’s only when we ignore those things and rationalize them, that we throw our hands in the air and “oh he was such a nice quiet neighbor who kept to himself!” with a dude who had a freezer full of body parts.

      I’m sorta thinking about it like this: We record Near Miss OSHA incidents and track them. Too many safety incidents where I work, even if minor, and they’ll put you on special training or sort of watch you extra carefully even if these things don’t result in any Lost Time Injuries, because the notion is if you have a lot of Near Misses, you’re trying to take shortcuts and not following the safety rules, doing something that increases the overall likelihood of Lost Time Incidents, and they want to deal with it before something truly horrendous happens. A whole lot of Near Misses, and they’ll definitely find a refusal to wear PPE correctly, ignoring signage, not following SOPs, something. They always do, nobody is that clumsy. And while you can’t get fired for just having a Near Miss, you can definitely get fired for refusal to wear PPE correctly or not following SOPs. So I can definitely imagine a system where, each individual incident of bad behavior in other ways is not a firing-worthy offense or violence, but investigation of the reasons for several of them builds up a pattern of things that most definitely ARE fireable offenses.

      But literally nowhere I have ever worked or even heard of, treats anything other than OSHA regulations this way.

      1. Troutwaxer*

        “…is, these things don’t happen in a fking VACUUM, there are several steps that happen before a person gets to the point of doing violence, and by observing these things we can predict a high likelihood of violent behavior…”

        Exactly. And it’s not just a matter of this relating to the victim. Discipline also hopefully (yes, I know it’s a forlorn hope most of the time) has an effect on the aggressor, and ideally someone who gets disciplined for being an asshole to women thinks things through and dials it down a notch or two.

        1. Lora*

          Or at least communicates to the aggressor, the same way “hey, you need to put your hard hat on” reminders communicate at a work site, that “this is how we do things here, you can get with the program or you can leave.”

    15. Raven*

      There are two issues here: One, whether the reported crime has taken place. Two, whether the accused person committed it. If we presume the truth of the former, the latter remains highly problematic. The potential truth or falsity of an eyewitness identification — for this crime or, really, any crime — can be heavily reliant on whether the perpetrator is known to the victim. For example, if someone breaks into your house and steals your TV, and you recognize your drug-addicted nephew that you wouldn’t give any money to, you’re more likely to be right than if some random person you’ve never seen before does the exact same thing.

      So if the rapist is, say, an ex-boyfriend, the accuser is probably right about the identification. If he’s some guy breaking into houses and assaulting strangers (Joseph deAngelo, for instance) a mistaken identification is much more likely. And one thing we don’t get in this letter (if the OP even knows) is which of these is the case. Note that in neither case am I saying that the crime didn’t happen — only talking about the identification of a specific person as the perpetrator.

      And, unfortunately, that type of mis-identification is all too common when it’s a stranger. The rapist (or mugger, or shooter, or whatever) was black, this guy who was in the neighborhood is black, never mind that he’s 20 years older and six inches shorter than the description, he’s the right race, arrest him, case closed. And by the time the cops and the DA are done, the victim is sure that it was him, too. Which means that both an innocent man was punished *and* a guilty person remains free to commit further crimes, emboldened by how he got away with it.

      So it can be a very bad idea to punish someone for a crime he hasn’t been convicted of. If nothing else, the company is putting itself at risk of a situation when, if someone else is convicted of the crime, the fired employee sues the company for the loss of his job, and consequently his home, etc. Because the reason we have courts instead of Judge Dredd is that it’s quite possible that he *didn’t* do it. (again, not that the crime didn’t happen, but the criminal is someone else)

    16. Elizabeth*

      False accusations are exceedingly rare in cases where the survivor knows the person they accuse. But it is NOT exceedingly rare for police to pick up a convenient person to arrest in a high-profile case, with scant evidence that this particular person was the culprit. I’d want more info.

      1. Self Employed*

        On another thread, OP commented that the police arrested him after investigating a date rape case by tracing him through the dating app. (And the suspect/employee is white, too.)

  3. Dingbat*

    OTOH, the employee did not show up for shifts or call in, which would be a fire-able offense alone. Not that this is still the compassionate response.

    1. Diahann Carroll*

      This. They can always fall back on their attendance policy as the explanation for why this person was let go.

      1. Anonapots*

        This feels like a weaselly way to do it, though. “Hi, we know you have much bigger things to deal with, like possibly dealing with being in jail, but you didn’t call out, sooo….” It’s disingenuous and the sort of BS companies get up to so they can avoid having to treat people like people.

          1. LurkNoMore*

            This is a good questions for Alison to ask – what was the most weaselly thing a company did to fire/lay-off an employee.
            Mine: A major manufacturing company located close to a college that had a nationally ranked football team would hold drug tests the Monday after a big game if they needed to reduce the workforce.

            1. Junior Assistant Peon*

              I’ve seen this tactic at two different companies I worked for: move about 15 miles, resulting in a good percentage of people quitting voluntarily due to their commute suddenly going from 30 to 75 minutes. No severance needed!

          1. Anonapots*

            Not quite the same thing since one is about law enforcement and trying to make charges stick to someone and the other is about whether an employer should fire someone or not and for what reason, but okay.

        1. Rainy*

          I’ve told this story before, but I once hired someone, asked her to report at 8:30a on Monday, and on Monday when it was 10a and she hadn’t come in, I called my second choice and offered her the job.

          On Thursday when my first hire got out of jail (!!! news to me!), she called and asked if she still had the job, and I said no.

          She wasn’t fired (kind of ambiguous here, is it still firing if you just never employ them?) for being arrested or in jail, she was fired because she never showed up and no one called to let us know.

    2. WellRed*

      They can’t show up if they are locked up and if it’s for a crime they didn’t commit, firing them for failure to do so is basically still firing them for a crime they didn’t commit.

      1. Person from the Resume*

        The jailed employee could have had someone call on their behalf. It appears that someone was at their house when the co-worker stopped by to check on him to explain what happened.

        1. Lebkuchen*

          Guess it might not be the first thing they would think of and after that it may be too late/impossible.

        2. Diahann Carroll*

          Not only that, it’s not really a company’s problem if you’ve been arrested for a crime. This isn’t the same thing as someone being laid up in a hospital or some other medical emergency – barring those circumstances, you need to be at work when you’re supposed to be there or call out (or have someone call out for you if you’re unable).

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              It’s not – illness and medical emergencies of other kinds are usually not preventable. You can prevent being arrested in many cases.

              1. Sal*

                This comment literally and logically is the opposite of the presumption of innocence, as it presumes that if you’re arrested, you could have behaved differently to avoid arrest.

                I’m sorry if I am all over this thread but I was a public defender with *plenty* of innocent clients (cases of all types) and I now work on wrongful conviction cases for another governmental agency. The real rates of false accusation (not of sex crimes, of crimes across the board) is completely unknown (e.g., no one is doing serious work on misdemeanors but my own experience leads me to believe the wrongful accusation rate may be insane) but wrongful conviction history provides plenty of reason for concern.

                1. OP*

                  This, exactly.

                  I’m not making the argument that *this guy* didn’t do *this crime* – or that we don’t know for sure, yet.

                  It’s more of a general, “We know that there are a non-zero number of false arrests, so is it ethical to fire someone before the trial?”

                  I was reminded of the Central Park Five – it’s been absolutely proven that they didn’t commit the crime they were convicted of, yet there are still people who think they should be not only incarcerated, but executed.

                2. Self Employed*

                  If someone is arrested, whether or not it’s a good arrest or a wrongful arrest, they can have their lawyer or family call their office to let them know they are taking care of a personal emergency. If the company decides that this isn’t a valid call-in because the employee delegated it, then that would be kind of weaselly.

              2. MissElizaTudor*

                But not in all cases. Bad arrests happen, and people can make mistakes that aren’t fully preventable (because people are human).

                You can prevent illness and accidents in plenty of cases, as well. If I just eat things I prepare at home, I’m less likely to get food poisoning than it I eat out, and if I take public transportation rather than drive, I’m less likely to get into a car accident. It wouldn’t be reasonable to fire someone because they were unable to come in due to food poisoning or had a car accident.

                All of this is leaving aside arrests for things that shouldn’t be crimes, which is a whole other topic.

              3. Corey*

                Good lord, read your comments back to yourself.

                This whole thread is about the possibility that the employee had no control over the situation. The very discussion you are replying to asks that you assume that possibility to be true. If your point requires you to flip our one assumption, then why even try to make it? It’s like you’ve forgotten where you are.

              4. Anonapots*

                This…is a strange assertion to make. It kind of smacks of the logic used by people after someone is killed by an officer. “Well, if they weren’t doing something wrong, the police wouldn’t have been there.” That’s not at all true.

              5. Raven*

                Given that *not actually committing any crime* doesn’t always prevent people from being arrested, what would you suggest?

      2. Temperance*

        Why is the immediate assumption that a rapist was locked up for a crime that he didn’t commit? Do you know how hard it is to actually have charges like that move forward?

        The presumption of innocence is a bedrock of the justice system, sure, but this isn’t court.

        1. Anon for Today*

          Exactly – if the investigation produced strong enough evidence to actually arrest someone I’d be more inclined to believe the charges were credible. People don’t just get arrested the second they’re accused of rape.

        2. Raven*

          The immediate assumption is that *a co-worker* was locked up for a crime that *you don’t know if he committed*.

          Is Victoria Banks a murderer?

          1. Paperwhite*

            In this case we have an actual victim, perhaps with an actual rape kit or other medical report, lodging an actual complaint, not a charge of the murder of someone who never existed.

            Applying “innocent until proven guilty” socially to sexual assault has a flip side: the victim is then presumed lying until she* proves herself truthful, which she must do in order to have any chance of getting the legal process going. Why do we consider that justice?

            *”she” because our society considers sexual assault to be a problem women face and considers women to be generally mendacious, although, interestingly and horrifyingly, male victims of sexual assault aren’t believed either because “that doesn’t happen to men”. So the odds are stacked in favor of the perpetrators all round.

      3. Yorick*

        Well, the company could consider hiring them back if charges are dropped and the person gets in touch with an explanation. The same way the company might hire them back after firing them for no-shows and then finding out they were in the hospital for 2 weeks.

    3. ceiswyn*

      That was my immediate thought, too; though I don’t know what opportunity the employee would have had to contact their boss. And if they only had limited time or ability to contact people, they likely prioritised family and legal representatives.

      I would certainly not be happy if a company fired someone just for being arrested, though I could understand placing them on ‘gardening leave’ pending the outcome.

      1. Sleepytime Tea*

        If you have a lawyer, and for a crime like this one would be appointed to you if you couldn’t afford one, then it is pretty standard that they would offer to contact your place of employment, family members, or other people you needed if you were going to be in jail for multiple days. You probably wouldn’t call your boss from jail, you would however talk to your family and get your affairs in order, which would include someone contacting your place of employment.

          1. Observer*

            Yes, but this was not a matter of “next shift”. It was a few days and several attempts to contact him.

        1. Kesnit*

          “If you have a lawyer, and for a crime like this one would be appointed to you if you couldn’t afford one, then it is pretty standard that they would offer to contact your place of employment, family members, or other people you needed if you were going to be in jail for multiple days. ”

          As one of those “appointed to you” lawyers, I can tell you it isn’t as easy as all that. I can’t speak for every jurisdiction, but this is what would happen where I practice…

          Let’s say you are arrested on Monday evening. You are brought in front of the judge to ask for an attorney on Tuesday. Likely you miss work on Tuesday. Our office gets your paperwork and the bond motion is filed either Tuesday or Wednesday. (Most likely Tuesday.) The court gets the bond Motion and will set it no earlier than Thursday. (It is possible on Wednesday, but unlikely.) The earliest I am going to get the paperwork is Wednesday morning, and I will be down to see you that afternoon. Now you have missed work on Wednesday, and that is the earliest I would be able to call.

    4. ElleKay*

      Yes, this ^
      No call/no show = fired.
      Maaaybe, if they end up being acquitted or not charged the employer might offer them their job back (since the CYA need is removed) but they’re probably falling back on this rationale.

    5. joss*

      That is assuming he was in a position to notify his employer of course. I would think that (if he is innocent) the arrest was not something he would have seen coming. And I am not sure you get a phone call to call your employer

      1. Me*

        ^This. My little sister was a heroin addict, which we didn’t know until she was arrested. Iirc, my parents were the ones to call her employer, although they called to quit on her behalf (she was only 17 at the time). Even if she’d been able to call, she wouldn’t have had their phone number memorized. So people who get arrested who don’t have family to do toss stuff for them would be out of luck.

      2. Stephanie*

        Yeah, I’m not quite sure how I’d have someone get in touch with my boss were in this situation. I definitely don’t have her phone number memorized. I might recall the email…

      3. PeteyKat*

        The whole case must have been on his radar. He would have been questioned by the police at some point about what happened as it was a case of date rape. So I don’t think he was totally blindsided by the case. He might have even had a lawyer.

    6. Dave*

      This is to me a avoids the legal ethical issues of firing someone for being arrested. You can argue all day about when is acceptable not to call off or for how long, but it gives the employer clear ethical grounds for firing and the employee could always plead their case later.

      I do find it interesting how many people are saying they don’t know their office number for their boss. Maybe I always have to give it to others more then most people but I could easily recite my boss’s cell faster then I could remember my partners.

      1. ceiswyn*

        My boss’s mobile number is, like every other number I have, programmed into my phone.

        If I were separated from my phone I would be able to call literally nobody,

        1. Raven*

          How did we ever get to this situation?

          I can remember my phone number from my childhood, from a place we moved away from when I was 12. But I cannot remember my mother’s phone number. Or my best friend’s. Or, actually, any other phone number except my own, and *that* only because I’ve had to look it up on my phone and tell it to other people so often.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, this. But I’m in the same boat. I remember multiple family phone numbers from when I grew up, and I still remember my best friend’s from junior high landline number, and my parents’ last landline number. But I can’t remember even my husband’s or my son’s cellphone numbers (I have my husband’s business card in my purse and my son’s cellphone number is written on the back in case of emergency).

            When I was growing up, our phone numbers consisted of a 2-digit area code that you omitted when you called to another number in the same area and a 6 or 7-digit subscriber number. I can remember strings of 6 or 7 digits easily enough, but the 10-digit cellphone number (or 12 digits if we include the country code) are too much for me to handle.

      2. Lana Kane*

        I don’t know my manager’s number, but in a pinch, I do know my employer’s main line. That shoudl be enough and everyone should at least know that.

        It’s unlikely the employee himself could have called his boss, but someone could have on his behalf. At the versy worst, they could google the name of the company for the phone number.

      3. Quill*

        I don’t know my DAD’S number.

        Because he got a cellphone several years after the rest of us (due to having an office phone), and I haven’t needed to dial in a phone number since I had a phone with buttons.

        I only know my mom’s because every day after walking home from middle school I would dial her number and say (in retrospect, very snottily!) “I made it home, and the fact that I’m calling you means I wasn’t abducted, BYE”

    7. ToS*

      It may be, in addition to attendance issues, HR had enough other difficulty that letting the person go made sense. Unlike being publicly accused of a crime, HR will not divulge details. It would be *supersmart* for people *not* to gossip about this because they only have one detail, and use their time to get educated about ending sexual and gender-based violence. You know, being a force for positive change in the world, not pig-piling on the rare case where an arrest happens – They have professionals involved already who, again, may know more than what is in the media.

      1. Yorick*

        Seriously. What if this person was previously accused of sexual harassment, and is now arrested for rape? Definitely firing that guy.

        1. nonegiven*

          What if nobody ever had a problem with him? What if he never called attention to himself at work? What if was always polite and always called in if he was going to be late? Do you still fire him if his lawyer doesn’t get around to calling until Friday?

    8. I could never get the hang of Thursdays*

      No call, no show, for 3 shifts is considered a resignation at my work.

      If the employee is not able to contact their manager, then someone else could call on their behalf. “Wakeen is in the hospital/out of town unexpectedly/has a family emergency, he’s not going to be able to come in to work. He’ll contact you as soon as he is able to explain.”

      1. MusicWithRocksIn*

        Yup. At many places I’ve worked no one would have stopped by the house to find out what was happening. They just would have assumed they weren’t coming back and started posting a job listing. Probably called them a few times, tops.

    9. Donkey Hotey*

      I used to think it was a joke. An old supervisor once gave the advice, “If you get arrested, use your one phone call to call us.” A few months later, a co-worker was fired because his partner (whom he had called when arrested) forgot to call the office after arranging for his legal aid.

  4. NewHerePleaseBeNice*

    Hmm. I think most companies would consider the no-show and no-call for ‘a few days in a row’ as a sackable offence anyway, wouldn’t they?

    1. DarthVelma*

      Unless it was a medical emergency where there were extenuating circumstances that meant you couldn’t call in or get someone else to do so (like being unconscious)…yeah, multiple no-shows is pretty much always a firing offense.

    2. Captain Kirk*

      Honestly this seems a bit harsh, kind of like debtors prison: “You’re in prison until you can pay the debt. Oh, you can’t make money while you’re in prison? Oh well.”

      1. Captain Kirk*

        I would just also note that it feels like falling back on the “attendance” issue is a way to avoid the true issue at hand: Given we have a justice system that sometimes makes mistakes, how do we try to do right by both the accusers and the accused? I don’t know what the answer is in this scenario.

          1. Captain Kirk*

            Call me crazy, but why do you need a weasely way to do it? If this is the US, the accused is most likely at-will. Just be honest and say you’re firing them because you’d rather not work with them. This is just so the company can try to feel good about themselves, not firing someone before they’re proved guilty, but because “they’ve violated policy.”

            1. Diahann Carroll*

              Nah, it’s most likely a CYA measure in case the fired employee tries to sue for wrongful termination. They can then say, “We fired you because you weren’t at work for three days – per company policy, absences three days or longer with no word from you is considered job abandonment.” That’s much easier to defend because that’s in black in white and many companies have their employees sign the handbook agreeing to these terms.

        1. Captain Kirk*

          I’ve been watching DS9 (Kirk watching DS9? Shocking, I know), and there’s an episode where O’Brien is given the memories of 20 years of incarceration, and how it affects him, even once he’s out.

          I’m willing to accept for the sake of argument that false sexual accusations are incredibly rare. But even so, given a large population size, that’s going to result in a fair number of people unjustly accused, and suffering harsh punishment.

          We had the Salem witch trials, which took the attitude of, “if you’re innocent, you’ll be dead, but God knows.” I’m starting to suspect that the idea of “innocent until proven guilty” and “it is better for the guilty to go free than the innocent to suffer wrongly” were in part reactions to that belief. It feels like we’re starting to swing back the other way.

          Compare the attitude of “innocent until proven guilty” to the Cardassian justice system, where the verdict is known before the trial, because, as Gal Dukat notes, “The Cardassians love to know that justice always triumphs over evil.”

          1. Paperwhite*

            Please add this to your calculations: the lifetime of scars and suffering borne by a victim of sexual assault.

            1. Captain Kirk*

              I admit I’ve never been the victim of a sexual assault. The closest thing would be when I was in 4th grade and another kid my age attempted to take a photo of me while I was in the bathroom stall. But that’s not a rape. And I’m not sure if he succeeded; the adults threw the camera away (this was in the days of disposable cameras). I’m a guy as well.

              So I can’t exactly know how I’d react if I was raped. But I believe that justice needs to be impartial and meted out dispassionately. If I was murdered, I don’t want my family killing my murderer. That’s not justice.

              1. Littorally*

                On the other hand, if you were murdered, you probably don’t want the cops to shrug and assume you probably consented to be murdered, because after all, lots of people get accused falsely of murder, and dang, there’s just no way to prove for sure that you didn’t want to be killed.

          2. MusicWithRocksIn*

            Star Trek, while very progressive in other ways, was not really great about consent or acknowledging sexual assault. For example take the time Tom Paris got body swapped with an alien, who then slept with B’elanna pretending to be Tom, and no one ever brought it up again. There was also some really gross stuff that was played for comedy when Quark was turned into a women.

            1. Captain Kirk*

              First, you’re right on Star Trek and sexual assault. Second, I think we’re confusing the issue at stake: How do we, as a society, determine justice for both the victim and the guilty? Because even if you’re guilty, you get justice, it’s punishment for what you’ve done. And we need justice for the victim, that being society extracting punishment from the guilty. Finally we need justice for the innocent.

              We as a society need to have a frank discussion of how we determine justice, because we are having some cross-currents which are pulling us in opposing directions.

              It appears my other reply to Paperwhite is caught in moderation…

            2. EchoGirl*

              Interesting, because when it comes to Voyager, the episode I always remember is the one where Paris refuses to have sex with B’Elanna because she’s not capable of meaningful consent, even though she’s throwing herself at him.

              I don’t want to derail too far because this is ultimately pretty tangential, but for anyone who’s interested, Women at Warp actually did an episode on this, the good and the bad: https://www.womenatwarp.com/episode-72-sexual-assault-pt1/

              1. EchoGirl*

                Although this one is only TOS and TNG — it’s a shame the Part 2 never happened, I would’ve been interested in seeing some analysis on the later series.

          3. Raven*

            It was William Blackstone in England in the 1700s who said “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”

            1. Paperwhite*

              Unfortunately rape victims are never considered to be innocents whose suffering should be prevented under that rubric.

              Not least after suffering through college discussions where ‘edgy’ boys used Blackstone’s Theorem to basically argue that rape should not be illegal, I really really hate seeing it used as a way to excuse those who commit sexual assault.

      2. Jennifer*

        I agree that this is a bit harsh. Obviously if someone is behind bars they may not have the numbers memorized and their family may not know how to get in touch with the company. Honestly, I don’t know if my parents or brother even know where
        I work. If I were single I’d be screwed.

        Just calling the front desk – if someone is even working there – may not get you to the right person.

      3. zinzarin*

        You can always call in. Even if you don’t remember your boss’ contact info, you can ask your family or lawyer to call the company’s receptionist and get the information to the company, thus avoiding the no-call-no-show termination.

        1. Jennifer*

          There’s no one working the front desk at my company right now. If you called the main number now you’d be routed to a dial by name directory that probably hasn’t been updated in months.

          1. zinzarin*

            Which still allows your spouse/parent/lawyer to get in touch with your boss. This is not an insurmountable problem.

            1. Jennifer*

              If the directory has not been updated, it kind of does. Plus if you have family member you think is innocent locked behind bars, your main concern is getting them out of jail, especially if they are part of a marginalized group. That’s why a bit of compassion is needed here.

                1. Jennifer*

                  Please point to where I said I don’t have compassion for rape victims? You won’t find it. People really need to stop jumping to conclusions here based on absolutely nothing.

    3. Anon for Now*

      Yeah, but if you had a good reason, most places wouldn’t fire you.
      My husband had an employee who missed work because she was in jail. But once he found out the reason she was in jail, he gave her a second chance. Because it was illegal and it wasn’t smart – but it also wasn’t awful.

      Rape though. A friend of mine’s company fired someone, not even for being arrested for the crime. He was credibly accused, it was fairly well known in their circles, and even though the company didn’t believe he did it (he probably did) they couldn’t be seen as condoning his actions.

    4. Oh Snap*

      We had someone end up in jail and they did indeed lose their job for not informing their supervisor that they would be missing work. If they had in any way notified the company, they wouldn’t have lost their job.

      It’s a good reminder to make sure a friend or spouse has your boss’s contact info in case you are ever unable to come to work. I imagine one might lose access to their phone in jail…. You’d want someone to already have the cell phone number or email so you can call them and ask them to notify the boss.

      1. zinzarin*

        You just need the general number of the company. The receptionist–or phone directory if nobody answers the general line–can get you in touch with *someone* in HR that can notate the absence.

        Calling into work is not an insurmountable problem. Not that I ever expect to be arrested, but this would be one of my first thoughts.

        1. Captain Kirk*

          Perhaps not insurmountable, but it presumes that they have the state of mind to think, in the midst of being arrested and all that entails, “I should call my boss!”

          1. otherstuff*

            I mean this would be top of mind for most people. It’s your job, the place you go every day, how you make a living.

            1. Captain Kirk*

              Not, perhaps, “what am I going to do? How am I going to get out of here? What will X, Y, or Z think of this when they hear?”

              Personally, reading these forums has been good for me as it taught me that I need to remember someone’s feelings aren’t “wrong;” that I’m not in their shoes and can’t know how they’d react, and I should be careful saying “obviously they should have done X because it’s what I would do…”

  5. Reality Check*

    I’m in the innocent until proven guilty camp. I know and know of too many people that have been wrongfully accused.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      I’m in the believe the victim camp. Not necessarily for the court system, but employment doesn’t require justification for firing in the US.

        1. Crivens!*

          False accusations are rare, and only 18% of false accusations even name a suspect. In fact, only 0.9% of false accusations lead to charges being filed. Some small fraction of those will lead to a conviction.

          Meanwhile, only about 40% of these crimes get reported to the police. So, for 90,185 reported in the U.S. in 2015, there were about 135,278 that went unreported, and 811 false reports that named a specific suspect, and only 81 false reports that led to charges being filed. Since about 6% of unincarcerated men have–by their own admission–committed this crime, statistically 76 innocent men had these charges filed against them. Add to that that people are biased against victims, and there are orders of magnitudes more perps who walk free than innocents who spend any time in jail.

          For context, there were 1,773x more of this crime that went unreported than charges filed against innocent men. And that’s just charges, not convictions.

          For additional context, in 2015 there were 1,686 females murdered by males in single victim/single offender incidents. So 22x more women have been murdered by men than men who have had false charges filed against them.

          And for all those who say “but accusations alone can ruin lives!” I say, then you should invest some time understanding the nuances of consent, because you’ve got a much higher chance of being truthfully accused of this for sex you wrongfully believed was consensual than actually being falsely accused of this

            1. Brett*

              I can’t get the full text of that paper, but the FBI reference is likely UCR or NIBRS reports.

              The type of incident Alice is referring to would not generate a UCR or NIBRS report in most jurisdictions, because those reports require a known occurrence of an index crime.
              That’s also why an “unfounded” would be relatively rare, because it must be a report previously reported as a known occurrence that was determined later to be unfounded (at least in a subsequent month).

              (Also, UCR and NIBRS will include incidents for which there is no suspect, which is going to lower the percentage of unfounded as defined in that abstract.)

          1. kt*

            But we’re talking here about an arrest that landed someone in jail for at least several days. It can be true that there are false accusations of the type you describe, and it can also be true that there is a higher standard for arrest, right? Or does law enforcement regularly put people in jail for days without any evidence?

            1. Crivens!*

              That depends, are the people white? Then no. If not, yup, they absolutely get put in jail without evidence. Just not for this particular crime.

              1. A Name or Whatever*

                I like how you conveniently believe that racist cops and prosecutors make an exception for rape and treat everyone perfectly fairly.

              2. Crivens!*

                No, I believe that the statistics on false accusations remain the same, which is that you are more likely to BE assaulted than to be falsely accused of assault, let alone be arrested for it.

                .5% of perps see prison time. Do you think a ton of those were falsely accused?

            2. Alice*

              The word of someone can be used to jail for days, yes. Spoofed emails, texts, etc. Yes. People can injure themselves intentionally during fights and that’s evidence.

              When you see shows on TV that leave homicide suspects walking around “due to lack of evidence”, it’s because they don’t want to risk anything that will ruin the trial, not because the threshold of evidence is super high.

              I left LE because I was horrified by it (among other things).

            3. Jennifer*

              The fact that he was in jail for several days isn’t relevant. There are people who sat in jail for years because they didn’t have money for bail, for much less serious crimes.

          2. Homo neanderthalensis*

            Actually this makes me doubt you more- there was recently a scandal where a cop admitted that he basically treated all rape accusations as made up and would pressure women to drop them. Later DNA proved several of his “false accusations” that he “shut down” had been raped by a man who would later kill several of his victims.

            1. Lalaroo*

              EXACTLY. So many of the studies that have very high rates of “false accusations” rely on police data, and it’s a fact that the police tend to be very likely to disbelieve victims and to categorize something as a “false accusation” when they just didn’t think the victim was “dishevelled” enough. (MacLean study in 1979). It’s also a fact that victims, upon facing aggression and hostility from the police, will sometimes say they made it all up just to get the police to stop. (https://www.npr.org/2018/02/06/583778370/a-false-report-highlights-how-women-who-report-sexual-assault-are-treated)

            1. Crivens!*

              Happy to, this will probably take awhile to go through because of all the links:

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape#False_accusation

              https://search.proquest.com/openview/6cdfce302d24baf26d72790d2bf2feba/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=41641

              https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2014/12/09/the-truth-about-a-viral-graphic-on-rape-statistics/

              https://ucr.fbi.gov/crime-in-the-u.s/2015/crime-in-the-u.s.-2015/offenses-known-to-law-enforcement/rape

              https://www.innovations.harvard.edu/sites/default/files/134851.pdf

              https://www.vpc.org/studies/wmmw2017.pdf

              https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acquaintance_rape

              https://www.reddit.com/r/MensLib/comments/9hraly/fact_checking_false_rape_accusations_and_why_we/

                1. ToS*

                  It’s helpful to also look up your local rape crisis center, so you can help anyone (including yourself) who experiences sexual violence. RAINN.org has a 24 hour hotline, chat and more.

          3. Idril Celebrindal*

            Wait a sec, Crivens! is saying that in the case of rape, the fact that it got all the way to an arrest means that it is statistically REALLY likely that the guy is guilty because even what false accusations there are almost all get caught before they get to arrests. And you are saying that Crivens! is wrong because most of the false accusations you saw got caught before they even made it to charges being filed, let alone arrests.

            So……… You agree with them?

          4. La nariz azul*

            The FBI says that 8% of such accusations are false, though. That isn’t rare. You don’t wake up and say to yourself “OMG OMG OMG, it’s the second Monday of the fortnight,” which happens 7.1% of the time.

            1. Crivens!*

              Those statistics include cases that were dropped for a variety of reasons, not just “proven objectively false”. In reality it is likely even more rare than that.

            2. Observer*

              The FBI says that 8% of all ARRESTS are for false accusation or 8% of all accusations are false? Very, very different issues.

            3. Starbuck*

              That 8% stat isn’t just “false” claims (as in, they investigated and determined the accuser was definitely lying) it also includes claims determined “unfounded” which basically means “we didn’t think there was enough evidence for us to even bother investigating, or the victim didn’t feel like re-traumatizing themselves in our adversarial legal system so we didn’t charge anyone/dropped charges.”

        2. Temperance*

          Nope. Nope. Nope.

          I responded to you earlier, but your take on this subject is terrible and dangerous, not to mention factually inaccurate.

        3. Yorick*

          Even if there’s no conviction, this guy might be bad for business. The charges could get dropped for any number of reasons that don’t mean he’s innocent. And that’s without considering the hit to the company’s reputation.

        4. SomebodyElse*

          Agreed… I’m a ‘wait until the facts come out’ kind of person.

          Now this all gets really fuzzy when it comes to employment, since the ‘court of public opinion’ drives a lot of employment decisions. I personally am not a fan of the fact that something that is unrelated to job/company done on private time can lead to dismissal. But I fear that I’ve lost that fight in today’s world.

          So, really not much to add to this I guess, except that it’s interesting there are laws protecting employees who have been arrested, but not protecting employees if they’ve done some legal but not popular or liked.

        5. Observer*

          You claim that “here are many people falsely accused and arrested for sexual assault

          That’s a statement that’s almost certainly false. If you have any actual evidence of this, please provide some sources.

      1. Harvey 6'3.5"*

        Believing the victim doesn’t necessarily mean that the particular person arrested by the police is guilty. The victim may have misidentified the perpetrator or only circumstantial evidence may be in play. Hundreds of people have been exonerated by DNA evidence who were found guilty by a court of law.

        But we can still certainly believe the victim that the crime occurred.

        1. Temperance*

          Found guilty of serious crimes like murder; false convictions for rape are really in the minority and I can’t stress that enough.

        2. Yorick*

          Most sexual assaults are committed by acquaintances, so misidentifications aren’t likely to be a problem. Also, a lack of evidence in the case doesn’t mean that this guy isn’t a rapist, and the company might prefer to avoid the possibility of danger.

        3. Cheesesteak in Paradise*

          I like to think most murder victims would not misidentify their attackers. The difficulty is only in getting their testimony…

        4. Troutwaxer*

          Agreed. There’s a huge difference between “false rape accusation” and “victim was raped and the wrong guy was arrested.”

        5. Lyra Silvertongue*

          The vasts majority of sexual assaults occur between people who know each other which is part of the reason that misidentifying the perpetrator is uncommon.

    2. Former call centre worker*

      In general, sure, maybe, but for this particular crime, you absolutely know more people who have been wrongfully *not* tried in court than people who’ve been wrongly accused. You just know it because you don’t find out about the ones who didn’t get caught or successfully convinced the police that the victim was lying or “asking for it”.

      1. Adereterial*

        Sorry, but you can’t pick and choose.

        Innocent until proven guilty. End of story. Not ‘innocent until proven guilty unless you’ve been accused of rape’. There is and should never be a qualifier.

        Assuming someone arrested for rape is guilty just because they’ve been arrested is unacceptable. Just because rape reports are very low and convictions even lower doesn’t mean this particular individual is automatically guilty and I’m concerned you seem to think it’s OK to assume he is and treat him accordingly, on the basis of no evidence whatsoever.

        Shameful. Truly shameful.

        1. BuildMeUp*

          I think you’ve misread the comment above you. They’re clearly responding to the second half of your comment, not the first.

        2. Former call centre worker*

          Adereterial, I think you have misread the thread of conversations here. I was specifically responding to this comment: “I know and know of too many people that have been wrongfully accused.” Simply pointing out that with sexual offences, you never hear about the far, far more numerous cases where the victim didn’t tell anyone or the rapist was never caught. With the numbers as they are, it’s unlikely that anyone knows more people who’ve been falsely accused of rape than they know covert rapists who so far have never been accused of their crimes.

          1. Reality Check*

            I wasn’t referring to rape specifically. While I understand the concerns mentioned in other comments, I’m stand by what I said. And I say that as someone who was sexually assaulted and no one believed me.

    3. Ana Gram*

      I’m in the “I won’t work in proximity to an accused rapist” camp. Is it fair? Maybe technically no. But false reports of rape are rare and there’s no way for coworkers, supervisors, etc to know the details until (if) it goes to trial. I wouldn’t feel safe.

      1. Kesnit*

        You assume you would know. I find it hard to believe someone accused of rape is going to run around telling people.

        Also, if you are working with someone who was charged with rape, chances are they either were not convicted (else they would be locked up and not working with you) or have done their time. Do you really want to live in a world where people are punished eternally for something they did – maybe decades ago?

        1. Arts Akimbo*

          There’s a great deal of evidence that sex abuse is highly treatment-resistant and those who commit it have an extremely high likelihood of reoffense. The offender would have to actually admit to themself that they were a rapist (someone above commented on how rare it is that people apply that word to themselves even when they admit they have forced or drugged or coerced someone into having sex with them).

          So, yes, I kind of do wish they would be punished eternally for what they did, for as long as they fail to recognize they hurt someone and show genuine (not fake) remorse. But then, I am a victim of rape and sexual assault, so these philosophical questions are a little bit less philosophical for me, and for others here who have lived through it.

        2. Ana Gram*

          Interestingly enough, I’m a cop so, yes, I would know if a coworker had been charged with a crime. It’s hard to hide given the gossipy nature of public safety and we all have our criminal histories run regularly.

          As to your second point, no, I do not ever want to work with someone who was convicted of rape. It’s not really possibly in this job but, even in past jobs, still likely a no for me.

    4. MK*

      And you determined the accusations were false, how exactly? I have worked for the court system for 13 years (not in the U.S.) and I have never seen a random innocent person accused of a crime they didn’t commit, like you see in films. Many times these people weren’t convicted for various reasons, like different interpretation of the law, lack of intent etc, but almost always there has been some problematic behaviour that lead to the arrest.

      1. pancakes*

        I spent two years of law school working for/with a well-known US clinic that exonerates wrongfully convicted people. Your understanding of how the US criminal justice system works is very badly skewed and uninformed.

      2. La nariz azul*

        I have worked for the court system for 13 years (not in the U.S.) and I have never seen a random innocent person accused of a crime they didn’t commit, like you see in films.

        Good god. Are you sure you didn’t live in Stalinist Russia in a past life?

        1. Captain Kirk*

          “We only convict guilty people because we only accuse guilty people!” Has a nice ring of certainty to it…

          /s

      3. Peep Show reference*

        Is that what a thousand years of the English judicial system comes down to? No smoke without fire?

        1. Captain Kirk*

          “First, let’s kill all the lawyers” was not supposed to be a prescription.

          Q even uses that in part of his indictment of humanity in TNG’s “Encounter at Farpoint:” We were depraved and uncivilized because, we, earlier in our history, had killed all the lawyers and created a justice system where the accused was “guilty until proven innocent.”

          Nice and tidy if you like that sort of thing. Was the way of life for thousands of years. We don’t realize how lucky we are to live under a judicial system that even attempts to do differently.

          1. Paperwhite*

            Watching you use Star Trek as a set of examples of why sexual assault is of no consequence is really hurting my Trekkie soul.

            1. Captain Kirk*

              I don’t mean to cause you pain; it’s just that the issue is ultimately one of how we as a society determine justice, and Star Trek (aside from being what I’m familiar with) has made many comments on what they believe justice was over the years. It was never a topic in Star Wars, for example, at least as far as the main movies went.

              1. earl grey tea, hot*

                Of course it wasn’t. Star Wars is a space opera – nice and soapy, little substance. Star Trek is a neoliberal bureaucratic-techno-fantasy obsessed with what empire and justice might look like at it’s core. (Focused on liberal humanist justice, specifically, of the “race-blind” “gender blind” “justice is really the main issue” fantasy subtype.)

                It’s a commentary on a specific era’s utopia, and it comes from a specific point of view. Unfortunately Star Trek lends itself all too well to mildly pugilistic defences of why sexual assault is ‘of no consequence’ – awful though those examples are.

                1. Good tea. Nice House.*

                  Thank you for reminding me why I can like Star Trek and find critical theory absolutely appalling.

          2. EchoGirl*

            I think that you can support the idea of a justice system that presumes innocence while still wanting to support/protect victims, especially with a crime like rape where there’s so much misinformation that surrounds it. It’s a slightly tricky balance, perhaps, but it’s doable.

            A piece of that, incidentally, would be extending the same presumption of innocence to the victims. Right now you have people who love to scream “innocent until proven guilty” about the accused, but are perfectly willing to paint the victims as guilty of a crime (false reporting is a crime) unless they can prove otherwise. Another piece is breaking down the myths that many people currently fall back on to “decide” who is innocent or guilty.

            BUT, perhaps most importantly, the presumption of innocence only applies in court. Individual citizens are not obligated to treat other people as though they’ve done nothing wrong unless and until there’s a criminal conviction (or “enough evidence”, whatever that means), nor should they be. It is in fact possible to maintain “innocent until proven guilty” as a legal principle without insisting that everyone must live by this concept in every aspect of their lives.

      4. Observer*

        Yes, there are countries that have something like a 99% conviction rate for all crimes. That’s a sure sign of a corrupt “justice” system.

    5. Cat Tree*

      I’m exceedingly curious where you live. Have these people been arrested and then acquitted? What jurisdiction do you live in that would pursue these cases so zealously? Because I’ve known actual rapists who never even got arrested because it’s so hard to prove a case without overwhelming evidence that courts don’t even try.

      So either you live in some alternate universe that takes rape cases so seriously that courts week pursue them even when police investigations don’t find anything, or you are uninformed about the legal definition of rape. Or you could just be lying, I suppose.

      1. Crivens!*

        His bro would never do something like that, bro!

        (That’s usually the excuse I hear when I ask that)

        1. Myrin*

          I’m always so baffled by this. I know, personally, five guys who committed rapes/sexual assaults (that I know of; I probably know plenty more but am unaware of that, like most of us) and I was entirely unsurprised by finding that out about any one of them. Not in an “active” way where I got a creepy feeling just by looking at them or something, but more passively in the sense that I found it immediately believable and in line with other behaviours/parts of their personalities. Every single one of these guys was quite likeable, mind you, but really, in my opinion you only had to look at each of them as a whole and in light of this new knowledge and it became apparent that the accusations against them were right. It’s like the “my bro would never” brigade doesn’t ever look below the surface but just immediately fires off a defensive response.

          1. Temperance*

            My FIL’s best friend from college went to federal prison for child porn and sex crimes against a minor under age 16. He lied about his conviction – claimed he “couldn’t talk about it”, but hinted that it involved being in the wrong place and accidentally fencing stolen goods across state lines on eBay. My FIL cut him off, my MIL tried to take the whole family to visit him but there was a snowstorm that weekend so she couldn’t get to the prison. (They’re divorced.)

            I found him on the PA Megan’s Law website with a ~2 minute search. He plead guilty. My husband’s grandparents STILL insisted that “there’s two sides to every story” and that he was a good man.

      2. Reality Check*

        I wasn’t referring to rape specifically. I stand by what I said, though, and I say that as a sexual assault victim who wasn’t believed. Innocent until proven guilty. I live in the US, same universe as everyone else.

        1. Pippa K*

          I don’t know if anyone’s made this point below, but I absolutely cannot read any more of this, so I’ll say this here: ‘innocent until proven guilty’ is a rule that was developed to constrain executive power and it is valuable because it puts boundaries around the power of the state against the individual. It is a rule that applies to the government. It does not apply – certainly not in the same way – to individuals. People are free to draw conclusions based on information in a different way than the courts can. If I know Bob has always been a bully and abusive to women, and I know that very few sexual assaults lead to arrests, let alone trials and convictions, and then Bob gets arrested for sexual assault, I’m likely to believe he’s guilty, and I’m likely to be right.

          to;dr – If you are accused of a crime, the courts must presume your innocence. I can think what I like.

          1. Starbuck*

            Right? As a private individual, I do not have the power to impose consequences anywhere near the gravity of what the court system can, so it’s fine if my personal standards for evidence are lower for acting on my own. Obviously it would be different if I was serving as a jury member, but when I’m not I’m going to apply my own standards.

            It’s like when people complain about their free speech rights being violated when they don’t like the consequences of their speech from individuals and non-government groups.

            1. Anon for this*

              THANK YOU.

              Signed, Person whose job description includes moderating online comments by people who don’t know the real definition of censorship but are quick to accuse me of it if I remove their fact-free observations from public view.

          2. Roci*

            This. We don’t have any obligation to blindly ignore warnings, patterns, gossip, eyewitness accounts, or anything we find credible just because a court must presume innocence before proven guilty. It’s a guide for laws and governments, not personal beliefs. I can believe the dude is a lying murdering embezzling scoundrel because I heard it in a dream, if I want to.

    6. Observer*

      You actually know multiple people who were actually arrested for rape and then proven innocent?

      Case numbers?

    7. Anon for safety*

      Every person I’ve known who said they were falsely accused, when describing the incident in which they were accused, had actually raped the accuser. “She was too drunk to say no so it didn’t count” “she didn’t fight me so obviously she was down with it” “she was unconscious so it wasn’t rape” “well I wasn’t the one who’d drugged her so it was okay” “she stopped fighting so that meant she changed her mind and was enjoying it” “I knew she’d say no if she was sober so I got her so drunk that she didn’t know who I was” “I pretended to be her boyfriend” “it can’t be rape because we’re married.” By this point, I hear “I know too many people who’ve been falsely accused” as “I enjoy hanging out with rapists and demand an unreasonable and impossible burden of proof to call someone guilty of it.”

    8. Ellie*

      I’m in the ‘weigh all information carefully’ camp. I know too many people who have been raped, and nothing was done about it. Women, girls and boys, unfortunately. It’s a sadly common crime.

      If you can give someone the benefit of the doubt then sure, go ahead, but there are many places where you can’t. If a teacher is accused of rape, for example, they might be innocent, but there’s no way they can stay in a classroom. If there’s another option, some back-end position, and the employer is willing, then maybe it can work. But I don’t think there’s any obligation. Employers have to protect themselves, and their customers, and their staff.

  6. Owlimentary*

    The fact as well that it’s rape – a crime where the rate of convictions is pretty low compared to the hypothesised number of actual offences, and even just for those brought to trial – means that an innocent verdict might not be viewed as (or mean) the same as it might for other crimes.

    1. Yorick*

      This is why it’s a “not guilty” verdict instead of “innocent.” Criminal courts literally do not attempt to prove someone’s innocence.

    2. cabbagepants*

      The standard of proof for a criminal conviction is very high, which is a good thing, by the way. I would argue that the standard of proof to fire someone should be lower. Like if there’s a recording of the accused bragging about the crime to their buddies, but the recording gets deemed inadmissible because it was collected without a proper warrant, yeah you should still fire them.

      1. Eliza*

        Yeah, if we were to put this in the context of a less emotionally charged crime: if money always seems to go missing from the cash register when Bob is on shift, you can fire Bob even if you don’t have ironclad proof that he’s stealing. You don’t have to suspend your own judgement until a court has made a decision.

  7. Web Crawler*

    This might be off-topic, but if you’re doing anything with a risk of arrest- like protesting- give instructions to a safe person in the event of your arrest. It’s usually something like “feed the cat” or “tell my husband”, but it can be “if I’m not out by Monday, let my employer know that I can’t come in without giving details”. In most cases, this isn’t ideal, but it’s better than no call/no showing.

    1. Kesnit*

      That assumes you know you are going to be arrested. If you didn’t actually commit the crime (not referring to rape. this could be any crime), how are you going to know you need to ask someone to tell your employer.

      1. Non. E. Mouse*

        Which is why the comment was prefaced with ‘if you are doing anything with a risk of arrest – like protesting’. Something a normal, otherwise law-abiding citizen might do but which does run the risk of being arrested for whatever reason the police may or may not come up with.

    2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      This. Honestly the no-call no-show is the hard one for me, even if there’s a “good” reason (I mean, it’s not good, obviously, but it is a pretty ironclad REASON for missing work).

      1. Blarg*

        Yea, I mean … the likelihood you’d be surprised by an arrest of this type is not great. The TV show “arrest immediately, as soon as a crime occurs” is not how it usually works. There’s an investigation. People get interviewed. They are aware they are a suspect. Regardless of guilt, usually they know something is up and could ask a family member (with whom they live!) to notify their employer should they be indisposed.

        1. Captain Kirk*

          So, not to say that people couldn’t, but I’d bet that people would still think, “I know they’re investigating me but they would never actually arrest me!”

          I mean, think about the number of people who die without wills, even though all of humanity is terminal… But people think “it’ll never happen to me!”

          1. Crooked Bird*

            I worked for a little while with a population in which a noticeable number tended to have warrants out for their arrest usually on drug charges, and from my small sample size I’m gonna say you’re right. It’s exacerbated b/c people with chaotic lives often don’t react in ways that assume they can control anything about the situation. They’re as likely to numb themselves to what’s happening as anything else. I don’t know if those factors apply to the guy in question, but I’m sure they apply to some of the people who are arrested on charges of rape.

        2. Sal*

          This was profoundly not my experience when defending people accused of sex crimes. No attempts were made to interview them prior to arrest in the three cases I can remember off the top of my head (two misdemeanors, one felony). The complaints were made, the police arrested them, and I got to be the one to explain what exactly they were accused of doing. One cried through his entire arraignment because he was so horrified and shocked. He was in his late 30s or early 40s and had never been arrested before.

          Unfortunately for those who would generalize, police departments vary widely in their arrest thresholds and practices.

  8. Glomarization, Esq.*

    Arrests are not proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of criminal conduct. However, the legal standard for an arrest is probable cause, not proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An employer can look at the situation (including the conduct that led to the arrest, and conduct during and after the arrest) and say, well, if the authorities have probable cause to arrest this person, then we don’t want the person on the premises any more.

    1. Blackcat*

      Depending on the demographics of the person involved, an actual arrest for rape often involves a lot more evidence than probable cause.

      1. Glomarization, Esq.*

        Well, it’s not about how I feel. What I’m meaning to say is that it’s not unreasonable to look at all the circumstances and terminate an employee upon learning that they’ve been arrested. HR is not a criminal courtroom. There are questions of workplace cohesion, business functions, PR, employment law, and more that come into play. And really the answer to none of them comes down to whether guilt has been established beyond a reasonable doubt.

    2. Annony*

      It’s tough. An arrest is a higher bar than just an accusation but the bar isn’t actually that high. Being actually charged with a crime is better but many people are charged with a crime and then found not guilty. I think being arrested for something like rape would generally be enough to suspend the employee but I would hope they gather more information and actually talk to the employee before firing them.

      1. Sal*

        +1. Aside from all the people found not guilty, add all the people who had their charges dropped, or were offered plea bargains too good to turn down despite being innocent because the risk of not taking the plea was too big to bear. My first ever felony client was sixteen years old and was very likely wrongfully accused (cross racial ID, big group of people, complainant just got confused, I think, and the cops didn’t care that they didn’t find the phone two minutes after the alleged robbery). When the DA offered him a disorderly conduct at his next court date, I all but made him take it, even though I believed he was innocent; his exposure on the felony was 7 years, I think, and the disorderly conduct was a non-criminal violation that would be sealed off his RAP sheet after two years, so he could truthfully answer “no” to “criminal record? Y/n” questions and his rap sheet would be totally clear to all but law enforcement HR by the time he was 18. He also had to pay $125 in court costs. No one felt *good* about it, exactly, but I would do it again every time.

        There are a *lot* of innocent people getting arrested out there. Not a majority, maybe, but a lot.

    3. Yorick*

      Yes, probable cause is far past the standard required to fire someone.

      Keeping someone on who was arrested for rape – even if the charge was dropped or they weren’t acquitted – could open the company up to liability (or at the very least, terrible press) if this person does anything in the future.

      1. allathian*

        Not to mention that if the information about the arrest spread in the company, it might cause a flood of resignations. I’m sorry, but I don’t want to work with anyone who has been arrested on suspicion of rape, whether or not the person is actually guilty.

        1. Middle Aged Lady*

          Yep. You have the safety and well-being of your other employees and clients to think of, as well as the company’s reputation. If you are are an at will employer, you can fire him for missing work. I second other posters who said they would not work with this person again. Maybe this is wrong but that’s the way of the world.

  9. Old Admin*

    Can an arrested employee even notify their employer when in jail? Aren’t their calls pretty restricted?

      1. SJJ*

        I’d also add that if you’ve never been in this situation before, I’d imagine you’d not really know what you should do and prioritize appropriately.

        I wouldn’t fault the person, their friends or family for not calling. They may not have known what was best to do. What’s better – having an “AWOL” or tell the employer that they’ve been accused of a horrific crime?

        1. Anon this time*

          I imagine someone should have called at the first missed shift, but especially if employee and/or employee’s family were sure that it was a “this is all a huge misunderstanding and everything is going to get cleared up anytime now” situation, I can definitely see the urge to avoid telling anyone at work about the charges for as long as possible.

        2. Sleepytime Tea*

          You would be provided an attorney for this type of crime. It is extremely basic for an attorney to help you with these types of things. Who should I call for you, do we need to notify your job, etc. etc. There are a lot of crimes where you wouldn’t be provided an attorney even if you ended up in jail for a few days, this is not one of them.

          1. Thursdaysgeek*

            Google doesn’t know my boss’s name, and I don’t think my spouse really does either. He certainly doesn’t have my boss’s phone number. In a multi-state company where my boss is in a different state, finding that number without access to my work phone or computer would be a challenge, and he doesn’t have my passwords either. I don’t know his boss’s name or number – I only know my spouse’s work number.

            I think I’ll put a sticky note on my work laptop with a couple of numbers and emails. Not that I expect to be arrested, but it’s still good to have those for him, just in case.

      2. MusicWithRocksIn*

        It is possible the family no longer wants much to do with him. If there was a partner at home who believed the charges, I probably wouldn’t call him into work either.

        1. Not Australian*

          No clear reason, in the stated circumstances, for the partner not also to have been the victim; I know a lot of people don’t believe in ‘marital rape’ but it most certainly occurs, and is treated the same way as the rape of a stranger would be. So, indeed, it isn’t possible to assume the goodwill of the partner in this case.

    1. Web Crawler*

      In most cases, you’re limited to phone numbers that you’ve memorized. Sometimes officials let you copy contact numbers from your phone.

      And in protests, many people write the number of a “jail support” line on their skin, and that jail support volunteer has some phone numbers that you gave them in advance.

    2. RebelwithMouseyHair*

      I don’t know about the US, where I live you get one phone call. So maybe your first choice of person to call might not be your boss, but you can call your wife/mother/whoever and mention “please call my boss to let her know I won’t be in the office on Monday”.

      (As a private tutor, I was unable to finish a lesson because the police arrived with a warrant to search my student’s home. He ended up having to go to jail and called me to let me know not to come back for more lessons until further notice. I found it really strange and sad that he didn’t have anyone else to call!!)

      1. zinzarin*

        One phone call is a myth created by movies and TV to create drama. There are no laws either guaranteeing or prohibiting phone calls in this fashion.

        1. Blackcat*

          They do have to allow access to a lawyer, though, and often the one phone call is construed to be calling someone to call your lawyer.

        2. Raven*

          You know this for every jurisdiction, in every country in the world? (note that the person you’re replying to is not in the US)

    3. TootsNYC*

      This is an area I’d like to see some reform. There’s the stereotype of “one phone call” (I don’t know how exact that it), and frankly, that’s just not enough.

      Especially when lots of people don’t even memorize phone numbers anymore!

    4. irene adler*

      There are arrested persons/inmate phone services for state and federal prisons and jails. Securus, Global Tel Link (GTL), and IC Solutions-to name three.

      These services usually give the arrested person a way to call collect to someone who is willing to open and fund an account that will pay for subsequent phone calls made by the arrested person. This account usually requires a credit card to assure payment.

  10. Person from the Resume*

    I think that this employee didn’t show up for work for a few days and didn’t call (or have someone else call on his behalf) to let work know what was going on resulting in someone from work going to his home to check on him. Definitely a mark against him.

    Also having an accused rapist representing your company in a very public-facing role is going to look really bad for the company. I think that the best business decision is to fire him. “Innocent until proven guilty” as a judicial ideal is in opposition to the concept of “believe the victim.” “Innocent until proven guilty” is for the courts and doesn’t have to to be applied outside the legal system.

    I do live in place where low income people end up in jail for minor crimes for long periods of time because they can’t make bail and this leads to them losing their jobs which makes their life that much worse and harder. That sucks, but that doesn’t mean businesses need to keep them on the payroll if they can’t come to work. Most/many of these folks are at hourly jobs which aren’t salaried so potentially their job could be held for them (essentially rehired) after release.

    1. Anonapots*

      I think you can honestly play both sides here. The company can 100% suspend the employee until the outcome of the trial while not actively employing them until the trial is over, if there is one. The downside is that our court system doesn’t prove innocence, only that someone is not guilty according to the evidence presented and because of the culture in the US, for many people (rightly) the mere accusation is enough to prevent a company from wanting to employ someone. If the employee is found not guilty, the employer can still do right by them and move them to a less public facing position for obvious reasons.

      My point being that you can’t just not employ every person accused of a crime, but you can control how public their role is if the crime is bad enough to attract that kind of attention.

      1. Ampersand*

        IF there is a less public facing role available, IF this employee is qualified to do it. The employee was not just arrested, she was charged with rape. If she goes to trial, it will be months even years before that begins let alone resolves assuming she is not guilty. No responsible employer will wait that long with the millions of unemployed right now due to COVID.

    2. mreasy*

      The bail system is the issue here. And the fact that low income people and especially BIPOC are much more likely to be arrested for all crimes, rightly or wrongly.

  11. Lucette Kensack*

    Without weighing in on whether this person (or others who are arrested) should be fired, I’m surprised to learn that you cannot fire someone for being arrested or charged with a crime. That seems to offer a level of protection beyond what is usual for American works. You can be fired for having purple hair, or because you don’t like cats — but not for being charged with a crime? Does anyone know the reasoning behind that?

    (I’m not objecting; I can think of some good reasons for this kind of protection — I’m just surprised.)

    1. Enough*

      Because many of our laws are written as a reaction to an event that outraged a legislator so they are based on emotion not logic.

    2. eviee*

      it kinda makes intuitive sense to me- like, you can choose not to dye your hair purple, or just nod and agree with your employer about the joys of cat ownership, but being incorrectly arrested might be completely out of your control. generally that’s the idea behind protected classes, at least in my mind. can’t choose or change your race, disability, gender etc. so it’s not fair to fire you over that (not 100% accurate but I think that’s the basic idea)

      1. Forrest*

        No, it’s not about whether or not it’s something you can control, it’s about whether this type of discrimination leads to structural inequality!

        The idea that we shouldn’t be racist / homophobic / sexist etc because people have no control over those characteristics is a way of watering down the idea of structural inequality and injustice and making it just kind of, “play fair, children!” Rather than injustice.

    3. hbc*

      My understanding (which could be completely mistaken) is that it’s tied to racial discrimination. Even before so many people realized how imbalanced the justice system is, they still noticed a correlation between race and arrests. Given that screening for arrests (which require zero justification by police) results in a substantial racial affect on hiring, it makes sense to ban it.

      Of course, pleas and convictions are also racially unbalanced, but at least there’s some sort of threshold cleared beyond “the cop had a bad day and didn’t like my face.”

    4. Atlantian*

      It would be at my employer. Both because several days of NCNS is a fireable offense (you get 2 occurrences in a 12 month rolling period) and because having been arrested in the recent past would cause you to fail the stringent background check you have to pass in order to be hired in the first place, innocent or not. Any behavoir that would have caused you to not be hired, is also a fireable offense here.

  12. Francois Caron*

    Is there such a thing as a provisional firing? The employee could be flagged as “fired” in the company records, but with an open door to return without prejudice if the charges are dismissed. That could legally protect everyone. However, I’m a bit surprised that no one from the employee’s family bothered to contact the employer, or maybe the stigma of an arrest made the family want to hide this from the employer.

    1. Annony*

      To be fair, they probably are dealing with a lot right now and it may not have been on anyone’s radar. Or they could all have assumed that somebody else would do it, especially if there isn’t one obvious person to do it like a spouse. Also, the OP did not say that his family was at his house. It could have been a roommate or neighbor who informed them of his arrest.

  13. Mainely Professional*

    CN: child abuse.

    Just this weekend I watched a documentary about a family in which an uncle was accused of molesting his nephew, and eventually pled guilty to lesser charges. The uncle was a prominent New York cantor, and the temple community raised funds for his defense as well as keeping him on staff for the length of his (long, drawn out) legal fight, including allowing him to continue to teach children. This was widely reported on at the time.

    Which seems completely insane to me. An accusation of abuse credible enough to take to trial = fire the employee. Sorry.

      1. Mainely Professional*

        Oh yeah. Much of the congregation was behind him, he was friends with the NYC DA Morgenthau (a member of the temple). It’s a really shocking case. Google Howard Nevison, the documentary is called “Rewind,” it’s on Amazon Prime Video.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      . . . especially for something like this. This is a risk I would be wholeheartedly unwilling to take.

    2. Talia*

      Well, they definitely shouldn’t have let him continue to teach children while it went on, but once you get to know some lawyers and realize just how badly the police are doing and how biased they are, credible accusations of *anything* shouldn’t be enough to fire the employee because the police are just that bad at everything.

      1. Talia*

        Curse the lack of edit button– what I mean there is that “credible enough to take to trial” is actually a very low bar and probably includes a hell of a lot of shoddy police work, which is what the trial is for.

        1. A Name or Whatever*

          Then factor in the shady stuff some prosecutors are willing to do in order to continue to appear “tough on crime” for re-election (or just because they’re bad people). The corruption and abuse in our justice system doesn’t end at the police and prisons. The stories I’ve read about people ending up in prison because prosecutors suppressed critical evidence or brought in cops who just lied on the stand are both sickening and infuriating. Then, on top of THAT, factor in crappy laws that tie the hands of even a good, honest, compassionate judge and you have a recipe for many, many people receiving punishments they don’t deserve.

        2. Gumby*

          For anything like this, I agree – it only makes sense to have the accused cease all contact with children. I would hope an innocent accused person would *want* to stop teaching classes until cleared of the crime in that situation out of care for both the comfort of the parents and the reputation of the school.

          But yes, shoddy police work, or even decent police work based on shoddy interview practices (*cough* McMartin preschool case *cough*), political motivations, public perception, etc. can skew things.

      2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

        I think if you have a low bar for “mustn’t work with children” which includes even accusations you know are very likely to be false, a suspension becomes a far more neutral event. It means “a complaint was made and it’s being looked into” rather than “must be a criminal, no smoke without fire” etc.

        The presumption of innocence is a legal concept, not a societal obligation. Where someone is working with vulnerable people (such as children, or in healthcare, for example) it really is not disproportionate to remove them from direct contact with those vulnerable people while there is still a pending charge.

        1. MaureenSmith*

          My thoughts exactly. if the potential crime impacts their ability to interact with a vulnerable client base, then a suspension at minimum is required. No details were given in the letter about the job, so we don’t know what industry this is.

      3. PT*

        Credible accusations are enough to remove someone’s access to vulnerable persons, if the crime involves harming vulnerable persons.

        I worked with kids. An accusation of child-unsafe behavior was grounds for termination, no matter how illogical the accusation might be on its face. You cannot take any risks where kids are concerned. Period.

      4. Chinook*

        I agree and I am glad that, in Alberta at least, we have 2 reports required for working with children and vulnerable people that looks specifically at anything that is flagged as potentially troubling. We are required to update it once a year as a teacher and, if someone was arrested, I could see asking for an updated copy. It doesn’t explicitly states charges or investigations, just a yes/no that this person is eligible to work with vulnerable people that you get from both family social services and your local police (you have to get them from where you live too, so they would have access to open investigations).

    3. Anon for Now*

      Unfortunately, this is so common. This kind of thing happened with Larry Nassar too. That’s how he was able to assault so many girls.

    4. bishbah*

      When I worked at a church, my teammate was arrested on accusation of having molested his stepdaughter some years prior. My bosses put him on paid leave, and asked him to maybe please do some work remotely as he prepared for trial, because our denomination’s policy forbade him from entering the building while under suspicion. (He didn’t work with children at all, but we had a preschool on campus.) They naïvely expected to know the outcome of his case within a few months.

      He did little to no work (too busy with trial, too depressed, who knows), and his entire workload fell to me. For NINE MONTHS. And that’s not when his case was resolved — in fact, he had yet to see the inside of a courtroom.

      I burned out hard and ultimately left. I still don’t know whether he was convicted or exonerated.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        These cases can go on and on. It’s not reasonable to expect an employer to pay an employee to sit home for years.

    5. zinzarin*

      This is not a very typical example, however. It’s an example from a VERY insular community with some values that deviate from the norm to a huge degree. The fact that this individual was being tried by the justice system outside of this community would typically be enough to get this community to ‘circle the wagons’ in defense.

      1. pancakes*

        I don’t know what you mean by typical in this context. Many, many, many religious communities and organizations shield people credibly accused of abuse from legal, professional, and personal consequences.

        1. Chinook*

          As a member of one of those organizations that is still unburying bodies, I agree. Going forward, I believe new accusations will be dealt with in a completely different way (especially with the way I see it being dealt with in my own local area), but it does not mean that past abusers aren’t still working with vulnerable people and aren’t still being shielded because of the can of worms (financial and moral) this would open up if they were reported now.

      2. Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers*

        Can you clarify what you mean by “VERY insular community with some values that deviate from the norm to a huge degree”?

        Are you referring to the congregation of Temple Emanu-El, the Reform Jewish community, or the Jewish community as a whole?

    6. Shad*

      Specifically with regard to children, I’m of the opinion that even admitting to *desires*, even with no evidence of any actual action at all, should be completely disqualifying from any work with children.

  14. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

    I’ve witnessed someone fired (from a firm I did work with, but was not employed by personally) due to “being arrested”. Being that the person in question was arrested in conjunction with a three-lettered government agency confiscating firm equipment (computers, a server, etc.) in the middle of a workday during what was essentially a raid? My bet is the firing had everything to do with gross-misuse of company equipment and resources and wasn’t necessarily to do with the “arrest” or what he’d been accused of. I’d also put money on it being a “face saver” for the big firm that did a lot of work for the subset of work that he wouldn’t be able to work in if he were found guilty or even plead down. Its one of those crimes where you do NOT want one of your employees even charged with it, much less hauled out during the work day and having your equipment confiscated.

    1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

      Follow up – plead down to non-felony level of the nasty charge. Is not allowed to work in that subset of the industry.

      I’ve personally refused to work with him on collaborative projects since, because I’m not even sorry, I do not feel safe around him, and have not received any pushback for that decision. Given the nature of even what he plead down to, my refusal was never even blinked at by any of TPTB.

        1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

          Clarification: no, not by the big firm.

          He still works “in the overall industry”, which can be a very wide-ranging and vague thing encompassing a LOT of specifics. Think “Horses”, which covers everything from feed store retail employees to veterinary technicians to farriers to trainers to event hosting companies.

          And on squicky occasion, I do still cross paths, and tend to make enough noise that “I’m not working with someone who plead to XYZ instead of felony ABC because I’m just not going to put myself in an unsafe situation.”

  15. KHB*

    Is it possible that there’s more to the story than we’re hearing here? For example, what if the employee already had a mile-long HR record of pushing people’s boundaries in a way that’s not a fireable offence in and of itself, but that leads the employer to conclude that, given that he was accused of rape, he very likely did it?

    “Presumed innocent until proven guilty” doesn’t mean that if he’s not proven guilty, that he factually didn’t do it. Sometimes the evidence just doesn’t allow for guilt to be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and for certain public-facing roles, I can see the employer not wanting to keep a person on if there’s even a 50% chance that he’s a rapist.

    But I’m just musing – I don’t know anything about any of the relevant law.

    1. 2QS*

      This is what happened to Jian Ghomeshi, as I recall. There had been enough complaints from enough totally unconnected women that his employment at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was already on thin ice.

    2. Anonapots*

      That’s an excellent question, but then that raises all sorts of questions about whey didn’t HR get rid of this guy before?

      The way the system is “supposed” to work is that if the case cannot be proven, the person is “supposed” to go back to whatever they were doing as if it never happened. Of course that never happens and I think that’s because in general we know how flawed our justice system is. If you’re a racist who sits on a jury that acquits racists of a horrible crime because racists stick together, you are unlikely to put much trust in that same system you just manipulated.

      1. KHB*

        “The way the system is “supposed” to work is that if the case cannot be proven, the person is “supposed” to go back to whatever they were doing as if it never happened.”

        I don’t think that’s true. Someone elsewhere in this thread mentioned the OJ case, where the evidence didn’t support a criminal conviction but did support liability in a civil suit. It seems reasonable that an employer should be able to do its own investigation (or its own assessment of the facts in evidence) and perhaps conclude that the guy is likely enough to be guilty of a fireable offense even if he’s not proven guilty of a crime.

        It matters also what the nature of the “reasonable doubt” is. For some crimes, it may be “maybe he’s 100% innocent because he wasn’t even there,” but for crimes of this nature, it more often “maybe there was sorta kinda consent – or at least he thought there was.” It’s very possible that the evidence proves beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s guilty of being a jerk and a creep, if not necessarily guilty of a crime.

        1. Anonapots*

          Sure, but if every person who was accused of a crime and came out of a trial without a conviction were barred from employment, that would raise an entirely different issue. As it stands, we treat justice involved people with immense suspicion leading to very high rates of recidivism. I think the two are connected culturally. I’m not advocating for ignoring accusations entirely or shrugging off serious crimes where there was no conviction, but pragmatically we can’t just shun everyone who wasn’t convicted because they likely did it. The flip to this is the number of people prosecutors convince to plead to lesser offenses because it will be supposedly be better for the accused. People don’t tend to understand the prosecutor’s case is questionable when that happens, but they really want that conviction, and it most often happens to people of color and people who are marginalized in other ways. Basically, our justice system is kind of a hot mess.

          1. KHB*

            “if every person who was accused of a crime and came out of a trial without a conviction were barred from employment”

            Fortunately, that’s not at all what I said.

          2. Paperwhite*

            One thing is, though, what are we discussing when we say ‘crimes’? Crimes such as theft have rather different motives, typical perpetrators, rates, and so on, than crimes such as sexual assault.

    3. OP*

      There absolutely is more to the story. This particular employee had a reputation for not following dress code (sweats to work instead of your uniform?) and being rather contemptuous of COVID safety protocols. From what I hear, it’s not a huge loss to not have him around any more.

      I actually believe he committed the crime he’s been accused of. This was less of a question about this specific situation than a question about the ethics of firing after an arrest in a general manner.

      1. Sleepytime Tea*

        Curious if your company has a code of conduct or ethics policy? I worked for a company that made every single employee sign one, and it included, basically, “if you ever do anything, or it seems like you’ve done something, that could reflect badly on the company, we can fire you.” That basically covered them if someone was arrested for any reason.

      2. New Jack Karyn*

        This sounds like someone who really believes the rules don’t apply to him. His comfort is more important than others’ safety. His wants and desires take priority over everything else.

      3. AuroraLight37*

        It sounds to me like the firing is the result of a build-up of his own actions with this last one being the tipping point, rather than one heinous offense. Which is perfectly valid. He sounds like someone who thinks that rules don’t apply to him, and he has kept right on going until they hit a breaking point.

  16. Diahann Carroll*

    Years ago, I worked for a company where someone very high up in one of our most profitable divisions was accused of child molestation. He was arrested, had his personal and work computers confiscated by police to check for kiddie porn, and it was in our local papers. His boss, the SVP of the division, let him work from home when he was released (and once his work computer was returned to him) and going through his trial – quite a few people in the division were pissed. Some felt he should have been fired immediately, but a small number of people (mainly those who reported to him) thought that would have been unfair since he didn’t have any child porn on any of his computers and he hadn’t actually been convicted of anything yet. They also didn’t believe he was capable of such a thing (I was friends with one such person and told her to stay out of this – she had no way of knowing what he did or didn’t do outside of work).

    When the accuser later recanted and the case was dismissed, he came back to the office, but it was awkward for some time. Some of his direct reports and others who sat near him had asked to be moved to other locations – they wanted nothing to do with him. I was shocked my very risk-adverse company didn’t lean on the SVP to can him (HR and legal didn’t even like the idea of a lawsuit or bad PR) – I probably would have to be honest.

    1. Caroline Bowman*

      Imagine his misery? I am generally 100% in the camp of ”believe the victim” but his life was effectively badly, badly smeared forever with something absolutely revolting.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Mmmm, just because the kid recanted doesn’t mean she was lying (and from my experiences with him a year plus later when I began working in his division, I’m not so sure he was totally innocent either). Trials are a lot for adults to handle, let alone a 12-13 year old. He was also promoted to AVP not too long after, people eventually went back to treating him like nothing happened, his wife and kid didn’t leave, so his life was far from smeared.

        1. kt*

          Yeah, seems like one of those situations in which “someone’s life was ruined” with a promotion, an intact family, and a healthy paycheck — but a few side-eyes, which are enough to simply crush some people with the amazing injustice & oppression.

          1. Anon for this*

            I have a colleague high up who was placed on leave for harassment and bigotry. Paid leave, indefinitely. He found a way of retiring very early and keeping his salary, which was to mistreat people publicly.

      2. Temperance*

        I know of a similar case in which a child was abused in a horrific way by her mother’s boyfriend. The mom’s boyfriend’s lawyer spent THREE FULL DAYS cross-examining this girl, which caused her to have a breakdown and ask to recant so it would stop. The child’s accusations were corroborated by other evidence, btw.

      3. Burrell*

        Frankly, that’s the cost of protecting the company and more importantly, protecting your employees who would be extremely uncomfortable working with someone accused of assault. If you want your employees that their workplace is safe, you must fire and then accept the consequences for the accused.

        Is it unfair what happened to this man, assuming he didn’t commit the crime? Yes. But it’s also unfair that thousands of people every day have to live with the fallout of being assaulted. Their suffering is so much greater in both magnitude and rate of incidence than the suffering of falsely accused people that it is barely worth mentioning.

    2. Sea Witch*

      A recant isn’t always proof of innocence, mind. Most child molestation victims are targeted by relatives or family friends. Sometimes the other adults in the family will pressure the victim to recant so that they can continue to coast through life pretending that Uncle Dave is just a real nice guy who accidentally touches kids while play wrestling.

      1. Diahann Carroll*

        Exactly. And based on some borderline things he said to me when I started working in his division, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t actually innocent.

      2. La nariz azul*

        In the 1980s and early 1990s, there were frequent accusations of abuse at day care centers around the country. People tended to react along the lines of “children never lie.” But of course, it turned out that children *do* lie. It is now widely accepted that these allegations were a wtich-hunt; a journalist named Richard Beck wrote a whole book about it. We have burdens of proof for a reason.

        1. Observer*

          Those were a totally different set of situations.

          In this case, the kids were not intentionally lying – they were being lead on by others with an agenda. To the point that most people familiar with the case will tell you that the kids WERE victims of abuse – just that the abuse did not come at the hands of the child care workers, but the social workers who were supposed to be helping them.

          These were very, very bad cases, but that doesn’t mean that most accusations of rape are false, much less that most arrests are based on false accusations. It it does point to the need to be careful in how accusation are handled, true. But an employer is entitled to act based on their best assessment of the situation.

        2. Paperwhite*

          I started to write a 500 word essay but I’ll just say this: while those accusations, which followed certain patterns, turned out to be false, they were not driven by the children and to use them as a weapon against victims of childhood sexual assault is malfeasance of the highest order.

        3. RagingADHD*

          Problem is, children usually lie in order to please an authority figure or get out of trouble.

          In many of those daycare cases, the children were being coached/pressured by parents or other authority figures with an agenda. Similarly, many recantations of true accusations are made under pressure.

          It’s very difficult to know in any individual case of recantation, which type of pressure they were responding to.

    3. Anon for this*

      Some of this is risk management too. While it is terrible to be affiliated with someone who has possessed child sex abuse images or allegedly committed a child sex abuse act, one who does such things is very rarely a threat to adults. Sex offender tend to have an MO and don’t stray much from that MO. If he had a cushy job in an office of all adults that never interacted with kids, the company probably didn’t see much risk to keeping him on. If he was a rainmaker, they saw a lot of risk to getting rid of him. Sad but true.

  17. OrangeSage*

    I work in a hospital with a behavioral health unit. We frequently have patients accuse a staff members of sexual assault. We always investigate and involve law enforcement as necessary. Most of the time the allegations are unfounded. One time the patient was telling the truth (proven by DNA but only months later). Meanwhile, the employee was still working in the interim, with close supervision. Regardless, it was a HUGE public relations issue! Also, now everyone with any accusation is suspended, which is a very big challenge as well…

  18. Jennifer*

    This is tough for me because as a woman I know how uncomfortable I would feel working near an accused rapist. I also don’t think I’d want to do business with that company.

    As a black woman, I know how many people that look like me have been charged with crimes with next to no evidence. Sometimes people have even been unlawfully detained without being charged at all.

    I think ultimately the company should have suspended him pending further investigation. But I do understand why they felt they had no choice but to fire him. I just don’t know if it was the best decision.

    1. boo bot*

      Yeah, I agree that they should have suspended him pending further investigation. The fact that it’s rape makes it feel really complicated both because it’s horrible, and because it’s really frequently not reported, and not charged when it is reported. So, whereas with a different crime I think I’d be able to assume the best, with rape I would likely have the instinctive feeling of “yeah, he probably did it” as well as the instinctive feeling of, “yeah, I don’t want to work with Mr. Rapist.”

      On the other hand, principles of law like “innocent until proven guilty” are most important when it really *feels* like the guy is guilty. “It feels like he’s guilty” is the kind of non-reasoning that leads to people being locked up for years in pretrial detention, to black and brown people being charged on next to no evidence, and to people being convicted of things they didn’t do. Firing someone isn’t on that level, but it’s still reacting to incomplete information without finding out what really happened.

      If they suspend him, they at least have time to see where the case goes, and also to talk to the people who work with him and see if he’s been raising red flags, etc.

      1. Jennifer*

        Yeah, I think it would be a good idea to do an internal investigation separate from the police investigation.

      2. Blackcat*

        “The fact that it’s rape makes it feel really complicated both because it’s horrible, and because it’s really frequently not reported, and not charged when it is reported. So, whereas with a different crime I think I’d be able to assume the best, with rape I would likely have the instinctive feeling of “yeah, he probably did it” as well as the instinctive feeling of, “yeah, I don’t want to work with Mr. Rapist.””

        Yeah, like I wouldn’t want someone fired for being arrested for most drug crimes. But rape and murder? Uh, yeah, suspend them and don’t let them back until the charges have been dropped or they’ve been acquitted.

    2. Quill*

      Yeah, I think the best course here is ensure continued safety of other workers (suspension and keeping him off-site) first, and figuring out what you want to do from there.

    3. Roja*

      This is where I fall too. On the one hand, obviously one can understand why they fired him right off. Rape is such a heinous crime. But there are so many cases of people being arrested/unlawfully detained when they shouldn’t be, especially people of color. I really can’t support summarily firing people who are arrested.

      It seems to me the best thing is (depending on the circumstances) a suspension or leave of absence with or without pay pending further legal development.

    4. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      I thought of it too. I can think of two casual (friends? acquaintances?) off the top of my head, one of whom was stopped by the police, and the other arrested, because they “matched the description”. And the description in both cases was simply, “black male”. Agree with everyone on this thread that suspension pending investigation sounds like it would have been the best solution.

    5. FormerCriminalLawyer*

      I posted at the end with more details about my company’s current situation, but this sums up my feelings as well. From my perspective, I trust my employer to do an investigation and make a good decision. So if they decide it’s safe for the employee to return, I’ll trust them. But I do want to make sure my company takes these things seriously, so I’d want even a day or two of investigation. Hell, he can even get paid for those days – I just want to know that my company takes employee safety seriously.

      I’ve also been placed under investigation at my job for blatantly false accusations of policy violations – the HR investigator literally stated “let’s see what I need to write to get you out of this situation.” I appreciated the willingness to investigate b/c if the allegations were true, I should have been fired. But I had rights too, so this type of approach balances both sides effectively.

  19. Liane*

    “Is there such a thing as a provisional firing?”
    That’s how the “suspension without pay” Alison mentioned in her answer would work. (Sometimes it’s with pay depending on circumstances, Collective Bargaining Agreement, company policy.) If the company doesn’t decide to fire in the end, for whatever reason (charges dropped, found Not Guilty in court, etc.), then the suspension is over and the employee gets back pay if it was unpaid.

    1. Phony Genius*

      In some unionized workplaces, the suspension must be with pay. And the employer can’t claw back anything if they’re ultimately fired. Yet, they still have to deal with the bad publicity of paying this person.

      1. pancakes*

        That will have been negotiated well in advance by the employer and the union. If it’s a surprise to the employer, they need a new legal team.

  20. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

    I worked with someone who was arrested and later convicted of domestic violence. My employer allowed him to continue to come to work after he was released on bail, but he was restricted to the fire station. It was definitely not a great route to workplace harmony, especially since the EMTs (mostly women) believed he was guilty and the firefighters (mostly men) believed he was innocent. It was a long 9 months (trials take forever!).

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      In the UK there’s a significant backlog of criminal cases, so it can take two or three years for even violent sexual crimes to reach court, let alone conviction. It’s a huge problem.

  21. Phony Genius*

    New York law is interesting on this. There is no protection for somebody with a pending arrest. You can fire them for charges that are pending. However, you cannot discriminate against somebody because of a conviction record, unless the conviction is for a crime that would be directly related to their job. So you can refuse to hire an accountant who was convicted of embezzlement, but not if it was drunk driving, unless they regularly drive to clients as part of the job.

    Taken to its logical conclusion, if they were convicted of a horrible crime and served out their sentence, if the crime has nothing to do with the job they’re applying for, you can’t hold that against them.

    1. Anonymous and Not a Lawyer*

      As the name suggests I’m not a lawyer but I do believe most violent crimes fall into the category of “having something to do with the job”. As in, if the person in question is a convicted rapist (and I’m noting that the person in the OP is not convicted) a company could justifiably not hire them because they would have to work with people of the same demographic that they harmed.

      1. doreen*

        There are a number of factors an employer in NY must consider before deciding not to hire someone based on a criminal conviction. One of the factors is the interest of the employer in protecting the property and safety of specific individuals or the general public , so a company could justifiably not hire someone convicted of a violent crime even though it has nothing to do with the actual job ( that is, it’s not directly related in the way an embezzling conviction is related) to an accounting job.

      2. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Yup – the specific term is “nexus to the job.” There are a number of factors that are taken into account. Pretty much every background “hit” goes to Legal counsel for review for this reason. (And the biggest mistake anyone can make is lying about it. If they are truthful, 9 times out of 10 we move forward with the hire.)

        It’s also illegal in NYS to ask about a criminal record until very late in the hiring process, after a decision has been made but (obviously) before background/other approvals clear. So it’s just HR and Legal that know the specifics.

  22. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    Oooofff, that’s a tough one. On one hand, I agree with innocent until proven guilty, but on the other hand the severity of the crime might break the workplace relation beyond repair or the backslash can start a domino effect that puts the business and livelihoods of their employees at risk.
    For example, some years ago I worked at a place that was linked to a murder case. The crime itself didn’t take place on company premises, but both victim and alleged murderer worked together. HR knew the team was having a tough time, and instead of benching the employee or suspending him without pay, decided to keep him working at his current position. The company was heavily criticized, its reputation sank yet another bit, and the victim’s coworkers had to deal with the shock and grief working side by side with someone they couldn’t trust anymore.

    1. Jennifer*

      A relative of the victim worked there with the accused murderer? Not trying to make light of a very tragic situation but I was just a bit confused by your wording.

      1. Yorick*

        It sounds like the murder victim worked there, so the coworkers knew both the victim and the alleged murderer.

  23. JohannaCabal*

    This is tough. OP, the company also needs to take into account public relations, especially social media. Unfortunately, social media mobs are not known for their nuance, so it can easily become “A rapist works at ABC Llama Groomers! Let’s harass their staff and clients!”

    (As someone who takes “innocent until proven guilty” to heart, it pains me to mention this aspect.)

    I don’t have any answers but wanted to point this out.

    1. Temperance*

      How do you reconcile “innocent until proven guilty” with the very real fact that so many victims of sexual crimes never get to trial in the first place, much less secure a conviction?

      There’s a reason that #metoo took off so much. Because women and girls who come forward aren’t believed.

      1. eviee*

        imo – I will believe victims who say they were abused. we should listen to them, provide resources to help them, take them seriously and investigate their claims. we can make sure victims are safe, and not forced to work with their abusers. there are lots of ways to believe and support victims- without immediately assuming guilt and punishing the accused.

        1. JohannaCabal*

          No easy answers all around, unfortunately. As someone who supports criminal justice reform and #MeToo, I wrestle with this. And I think as a society we’ll be wrestling with these questions for a long time sadly.

          Of course, this larger discussion doesn’t help OP’s immediate issue but I sympathize.

  24. SheLooksFamiliar*

    20 years ago I worked at a nationally well-known company, and one of our Sr. Directors was caught in a prostitution sting. His mug shot was in the local paper: not a leading story, but still a big deal in a large metro area. Even so, no one at work knew about it until his boss, a Chief-level Officer, got a call from one of our customers, asking, ‘Did you see this article? Isn’t that your Program Manager? Does this change our product delivery?’ Oops.

    The man wasn’t fired because he was arrested; he was fired because he lied about where he’d been (actually was in jail, not handling a family emergency), and because didn’t tell his boss what happened or help said boss prepare for negative publicity. He said he hoped everything would just blow over and, of course, it did not. His boss later said he would have backed the guy had he just known what to prepare for. He could have reassigned him to a non-customer facing role, or put him on leave, or some such. Instead, he heard from our largest client.

      1. NotQuiteAnonForThis*

        Same.

        That’s not something you should find out from your biggest client! (Would things have been different if they’d gotten the officer in charge on the front end of things? Who knows?!)

        1. SheLooksFamiliar*

          ‘Would things have been different if they’d gotten the officer in charge on the front end of things? Who knows?’

          That’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it? I worked closely with this particular leader and think, had he known, he would have moved this guy to a low-profile role and kept him on the payroll as long as he could. He was shaken by the charges but felt his employee warranted some support. Without the bad publicity, I don’t think firing the guy would have been his first move.

          As it turned out, the employee quickly accepted a plea bargain, suffered through some bad times, but went on to a new role in relative anonymity.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      There’s so many times where it’s not the arrest or conviction that causes the problem, it’s lying about it that is the deal breaker.

  25. Sea Witch*

    It’s possible that there were also complaints to HR about his behaviour on the job that LW is unaware of.

  26. sub rosa for this*

    Let me tell you the story of Bob. Skip to the end for the TL;DR if you want.

    Even in our fairly dysfunctional workplace, Bob was not a great employee. Don’t know what he had over whom, or if people just didn’t care, but he was regularly verbally abusive, always smelled like rum, and had a fairly obvious habit of nipping over to the bar a block away while on the clock that no one ever called him on. He had some health issues that may have afforded him ADA protections, plus he’d been there forever and he’d been drinking buddies with one of the VPs, so we assumed he was untouchable.

    And then one Monday… no Bob. Tuesday, same. Wednesday, same.

    Thursday, we all got called into a closed-door with our manager. Bob had applied for a leave of absence and it was not our company’s policy to grant leaves of absence. Bob was being let go for job abandonment. End of official discussion.

    Pete, a good friend of mine, said, “But I borrowed some tools from Bob; is it OK for me to drop them back by his house?

    Boss took a long, painful pause and said, “There is no one at his house, Pete.”

    It was crystal clear to all of us that Bob had finally got run in for DUI and they’d thrown the book at him, but no additional information was ever officially made available. He just… vanished.

    TL;DR: Toxic co-worker almost certainly got nailed for DUI and got the then-customary 30 days in jail; was fired for job abandonment; whole department breathed a sigh of relief.

    I can’t speak for anyone else in this situation, and yeah it was pretty crappy for Bob, but Bob had probably committed hundreds of hours of wage theft by this point and no one threw the book at him for THAT, so this was probably for the best. Had Bob been a good employee, I imagine we all would have felt very differently about it.

    1. Jessica Fletcher*

      I am personally shocked to hear of someone receiving jail time for a DUI. Are you outside the US? Here, my impression is that if you don’t hit someone, they just fine you or temporarily take away your license until the 4th or 5th time. We’re too busy imprisoning nonviolent people for substance use disorders.

      1. Blackcat*

        Depends on the state. And if you lose your license and drive drunk anyways, that tends to land you in jail in more places…

      2. Sal*

        In NYC I feel like the third DWI arrest had you skating on thin ice, especially if there was an accident (even if it was a one-car with no injuries).

  27. Tammy*

    I think this is a tough situation with no tidy answers. I’ve been a victim of violence multiple times, so I am very empathetic to the folks who say “blame the victims” and “I wouldn’t want to be around someone accused of such a thing, even before they were convicted”. On the other hand, I was also the subject of multiple allegations of child abuse because my adopted daughter had a social worker who thought trans women shouldn’t be moms, and was willing to commit perjury to try to block the adoption and (when that failed and the adoption happened) to try to “punish” my ex and I for embarrassing her in court. Each allegation was ultimately deemed unfounded, but not before triggering long, painful, disruptive investigations. And the consulting business my ex and I ran were “fired” by a client who didn’t want to be associated with us given the multiple allegations, notwithstanding their truth or falsity.

    Given that experience on both ends of the question, I think the safest approach would be to suspend the employee pending a resolution of the criminal cases. If the employer wanted to be kind, they’d make sure the employee’s benefits/health insurance remained intact during that time. If the allegations are ultimately proven, the employee can be terminated with a clear conscience. If the employee is exonerated, the effort to return them to the status quo ante is lessened.

    Tempting though it might be to say “where there’s smoke, there’s fire” and terminate the employee as soon as the allegation is made, I’d ask myself if this is the course of action I’d want my employer to follow if a false allegation was made about me. False allegations may be rare, but they do happen.

    1. AnonymousPoster*

      I’m sympathetic to your view, but I think it’s more complicated in cases of sex crimes and domestic crimes. Rape, for instance, has a very low rate of prosecution and conviction (something like 2%). I am close to someone who was sexually abused by an authority figure in her life for years as a teenager, and yet even though multiple victims came forward the case was dismissed without going to a full trial. One of the most painful parts do this experience for my friend was that the abuser got to live his life like nothing happened while she had to pick up the pieces and deal with the trauma in her life.

      It’s very tricky and I don’t know how to balance the potential of a false accusation with the possibility that the accusation was legitimate but there was no conviction. But we must keep in mind that many people who commit crimes are not found guilty by the criminal justice system.

      1. Tammy*

        Oh, I know – I was a rape crisis advocate for about eight years, and worked as a paralegal in the juvenile court system for a couple of years. I also have a close friend who’s been a police detective working crimes against women and children for 15 years. And, as I said above, I’m a survivor of violence (both sexual assault and intimate partner violence). I truly have seen this challenge from multiple perspectives.

        It’s a tough problem, with no easy answers, and getting it wrong in either direction has the potential to cause real and lasting harm to the people involved. I don’t know what the answer is, but my general impulse leans in favor of minimizing collateral damage to innocent people. That means protecting the victims of violence, but it also means recognizing the reality that the rate of false allegations is low but not zero. I don’t ever want to be in a situation where I’m forced to draw that line, I think.

      2. Forrest*

        I agree with Tammy, with the caveat that “the allegations are ultimately proven” doesn’t have to mean a conviction. It could mean an internal investigations decides that there is enough substance to the allegation that the organisation no longer wishes to employ them. (For example, I would expect an organisation that employs people who work with children or vulnerable adults to have a standard kf “you don’t get to do this job” that’s WAY lower than a criminal conviction.)

    2. Paperwhite*

      Thank you for sharing these very difficult experiences and the painfully gained wisdom you’ve earned from them. This is a nuanced and edifying response, and I’m sorry you’ve been put through these horrors.

  28. Meghan*

    “Suspend pending investigation” is a good way to navigate this. I think more info is needed before the company can act. Was the employee able to have someone call in for them, and didn’t? Was the alleged crime in any way related to their job duties, equipment, or reflective of the company? After those things are considered a better decision can be made re: employment, even if the judicial process is still unresolved.

  29. Also anon for this*

    My company got to deal with this earlier this year – one of my colleagues was abruptly no longer with the company, and the explanation I got was “google him.” The arrest was for something that’s very difficult to get the police’s attention on if it’s not extreme and credible. I know I would have been uncomfortable if I’d had to work with him again, even though it was probably tied to mental health and I hope he’s getting help.

  30. JJ*

    I worked with someone who was fired after a fatal hit and run. I felt bad for the guy, because that’s a “bad panic decision made after a genuine accident” crime, whereas committing rape is a conscious choice. As with some commenters above, I’ll note that false rape accusations are rare, and I believe the victims.

    Presumably the company now knows what the charge is, so for the comfort and safety of their other employees, I think upholding the firing is acceptable. OP, I’d bet you have coworkers who are thinking, “yeah that makes sense” based on the accused’s conduct at work.

    1. pleaset cheap rolls*

      The “run” might be panic, but the “hit” not necessarily – too many people drive to fast and don’t take it seriously.

      And while in most places in the US, the “run” part is what most the prosecution is about, the “hit” part is really terrible.

  31. Aquawoman*

    Innocent until proven guilty is a standard that applies to criminal conviction, because we have a society have (theoretically, anyway) decided that the risk of taking away an innocent person’s freedom is worse than the risk of a guilty person going free. But that standard applies to that consequence. Other standards apply to other consequences–thus OJ was not convicted of a crime, but he was found liable in civil litigation, because the standard there is simply the preponderance of the evidence (i.e., given the evidence, the court or jury it is more likely than not that he killed the victims). Because losing money is not the same as losing freedom.

    To Alison’s point about the racial disparity in arrests, it would be great if people actually applied the innocent until proven guilty idea equally to Bipoc folks and white folks, but they do not. Jacob Blake was shot in the back, Brett Kavanaugh was appointed to the Supreme Court, regardless of similar allegations against them.

    1. Sleepytime Tea*

      I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Enough evidence to take away someone’s freedom is different than what should be or is required to take away someone’s future pay.

  32. Not playing your game anymore*

    Someone I work with was arrested and jailed for child porn (creating images and videos with his own infant)
    Campus reassigned his classes to other faculty and kept paying him to stay away until the end of his contract 8 months later. The case was still ongoing when contract renewal came up, so they gave him a sabbatical with the option to return the next year. He was convicted and was “unable” to return at the end of his sabbatical year.

    As I understand it was somewhat less awful than it appears on it’s face. Most of the graphic stuff was photo shopped, but still.

      1. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes, my bar for awful is “used children as sexual objects” I don’t care if the whole thing was photoshopped. Sure their are circles of hell but in my book they still go to hell, do not pass go.

      2. Not A Girl Boss*

        Yes, my bar for awful is “used children as sexual objects” I don’t care if the whole thing was photoshopped. Sure their are circles of hell but in my book they still go to hell, do not pass go.

      3. Veloci*

        Really? I think it’s definitely less awful, which is not to say it is not awful by itself.

        It’s less awful in the way murdering five people is less awful than murdering ten people; just because there’s something worse doesn’t mean it’s not horrifying.

    1. Not A Girl Boss*

      There was a quite public and drama-filled takedown of a child porn ring at my old ToxicJob, complete with an undercover agent who’d been working there for months whipping a badge and gun out of her purse and tackling the ringleader.

      There were 3-4 other people at the company who were arrested and later convicted of viewing but not producing, and they were all union members. The company had a hell of a time trying to fire them. The details are murky to me now, but they all ended up getting under a year of jail time, which they were able to cover with a combination of vacation, sick, FMLA, allowed unpaid days off, etc. There was exactly 1 week they couldn’t cover and the company tried to use that to fire them for unexcused absences. After negotiation, other union members were allowed to donate their PTO to cover it. AND THEY DID. I guess child predators are nice to have as coworkers, or something? I got the heck out of there.

      1. Anonapots*

        That is a shitty union representative right there. I have a friend who is a union steward and he regularly has situations where he hears the reasons for firings and says, “Oh, I can help with that” and quite a few where he hears the reasons and is like, “Nope! You’re outta here!”

  33. singularity*

    Honestly this is one of those situations where it really also depends on the crime the person is being accused of and what their job responsibilities are. If the job would put the accused person in a position that makes them look suspicious or could put other people at risk, then they should be fired or at least suspended and not allowed to interact with at-risk populations. (A cop being accused of domestic violence or a youth pastor accused of molestation, for example, Alison’s example was a truck driver accused of DUI.) If you have some college kid arrested with a baggie of weed and he works in retail I mean… ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I feel like that’s a little much, but also a job like that isn’t that hard to replace.

  34. Lifelong student*

    Some years ago, a story in the local paper reported that the finance assistant where I was Director of Finance had been arrested over the weekend for theft. She had come to work that Monday and acted as normal. When someone read the article and told the Executive Director, she wanted to immediately fire her- but we checked with legal counsel to make sure we were okay with that. It was confirmed that it was okay. We did update the personal policies to require that any employee arrested for any thing was required to report that fact quickly- like first thing the next day- and that failure to do so in itself would be a firing offense.

  35. Wintermute*

    I wish more states had laws protecting people who were merely arrested, because while you may beat the rap, and win in court, by then it’s often too late, you’ve lost your job, your house, your relationships have suffered. Firing people on arrests only risks compounding the injustice.

    So I think firing is totally off the table, especially given how poor the track record of police getting the right suspect the first time is and how many people are exonerated in court. Now, what you actually do about it depends, I think, in large part on the circumstances alleged and the nature of the workplace. False accusations are rare enough that I think you can assume there’s some basis to them, but I don’t feel comfortable saying there’s so little a chance of a false accusation you should go ahead and ruin his life now just in case. Also you need to be context-aware here, the few cases I’ve known personally where overzealous reactions to what turned out to be malicious false accusations ruined someone’s life despite the fact they were never even charged were all from a field where false accusations are much, much more likely (corrections officer, teacher and youth psychiatric inpatient facility respectively). Similarly if the accusation happens in the course of an acrimonious divorce or custody battle that’s another case where I would absolutely withold judgement.

    Absent a good reason like a context like that, I think a suspension or re-assignment to a non-contact role is a minimum, Work from home would be a good option if practical. Focus not on retribution but on protection, make sure he’s not alone with anyone in the office (it would be illegal to simply ensure he’s not alone with women, even well-meaning discrimination is discriminatory), make sure he’s not in contact with the public as much as possible, and take other steps to ensure that he doesn’t have any opportunity anyone would say is improper.

    Yes I realize there is a PR risk here, but that’s a hill I would die on as a manager, business owner or co-worker even: rights that technically apply to the government but your work can still fire you anyway are not actually rights, if a mere accusation could see you fired, lose your health insurance with that, potentially be evicted from your home and your car repossessed because you lost all your income and have no hope of finding another source of money then you do not actually have a right to due process in practice.

    1. Velawciraptor*

      As a criminal defense attorney, I absolutely agree with this. I’ve seen far too many people pushed deeper into the cycle of poverty and imprisonment on the basis of ultimately unsustainable charges to think it’s ever reasonable to deprive someone of their livelihood on the basis of a mere arrest (the probable cause required for arrest is nowhere near as tough a standard as people are taught in high school civics classes).

      Even when you believe accusers, you have to remember that the American criminal justice system is rife with bias and flat out incompetence. Standards to become a police officer are shockingly low, training is limited, poorly trained and performing officers are frequently shielded by colleagues as a part of the “thin blue line” culture…the issues go on and on. Given that these are the people conducting initial investigations and making arrest decisions, the benefit of the doubt really should be given to the arrestee, not to the cogs in an unjust and racist machine.

      1. Lizard*

        Even when you believe accusers, you have to remember that the American criminal justice system is rife with bias and flat out incompetence.

        This. Have people so quickly forgotten that All Cops Are Bastards?

  36. Elizabeth West*

    Most of my past employers would indeed fire you for missing work, regardless of the reason. If you were taken ill or injured, they might not, but they sure wouldn’t have paid you for the hours you were out.

    In this case, I feel like company policy would dictate suspension vs. firing. If someone is accused of a serious crime like rape, I could see them siding more to the letter of the policy, e.g. “You missed three shifts without notifying us, therefore we are letting you go.” I’m not a lawyer, but I suppose technically they could do that without getting in trouble, depending on where they are. It just seems to raise more questions than answers, and those questions depend on perspective. Is it legal to fire him? Probably.
    Is it ethical? I don’t know.
    Would I, a survivor, feel safe working with someone I knew if he were arrested for rape? My gut says no.
    Would I quit over it? Depends on how badly I need the job.
    Would I hurt him if he attacked me? F*ck yes.
    Would I then be fired for that? Imo, only an asshole company would fire me for defending myself.
    Would I sue them? I might.

    So I could see HR deciding he has to go.

  37. J3*

    I think, in a way, the arrest/conviction aspect is a red herring here. The real issue is that the person was publicly accused of raping someone– them getting arrested is simply the reason you found out about it. And do with that what you will. Given what we know about the “justice” system, both in terms of targeting people disproportionately and in terms of not generally caring/doing very much about sexual assault, I don’t think “did they get arrested” is a very good threshold anyhow for how you deal with it when employees are accused of being rapists.

    1. Wintermute*

      I’m not exactly comfortable with going with “any accusation means fire them” either. Lets not pretend that arrests are the only thing that involves bias here, accusations are often biased as well. I don’t think it applies in this case but a quick scan of the news is all you need to realize that the threshold for accusations differs wildly depending on the subject of the accusation.

      1. J3*

        I’m not necessarily saying that, I’m just saying that whatever your process of discernment is, it can and should probably be better-conceived than solely considering the legal status of the accusation.

  38. Three Flowers*

    1000% the only thing the company should do in the case of an actual arrest for rape is fire the accused. To do otherwise is to subject other employees to a probable risk to their safety and peace of mind. Maybe not for theft, maybe not for bar-fighting, but for rape? You’re out. Sorry if you’re innocent, but this is very, very simple risk management for the employer.

    1. Three Flowers*

      To be fair:
      1) I work in education (various age groups, various populations). This is especially a no-brainer across that industry.
      2) In certain circumstances, suspension without pay *might* be appropriate. But the standard to actually get someone arrested for rape is pretty damn high, especially if the accused is a white dude (as Brett, Brock, and the rest of the band prove). I would want to consider context in some other situations…but if it’s in the news, there is really no choice.

  39. Not A Girl Boss*

    As an employee, it would be more important to me to know that the company was taking steps to protect me from someone accused of a violent crime, than to know that if I was accused of a violent crime I might be fired. I like the leave of absence policy because it protects the other employees but doesn’t make the accused fight for their job back if they are later proven innocent.

    That said, my brother has been on the other side of this policy. He is in the military and arrests without convictions can still have serious career consequences. He was arrested for underaged drinking in an insane series of events that was a giant overstep from police, and the case was thrown out and he was released within hours. He still had disciplinary consequences from the military, basically for ‘putting himself in a compromised position from poor decision making’.
    I have also known coworkers who were fired because of our company’s zero-tolerance policy on alcohol-related arrests, even without convictions. But we all signed the paper accepting that when we started working there.

  40. Just A Friend*

    Whenever I hear about situations like this, it reminds me of an old friend who was falsely accused of sexual assault, and how he reacted to the situation.

    This guy lost everything. He spent months in jail because he couldn’t afford to post bail. Even after the girl withdrew her charges and admitted they were made up and he was released, it was very hard for him to rebuild his life – he had no support from his family, and had lost a lot of friends while he was in jail. He eventually found a job but couldn’t afford a car, so he would walk miles to work every day.

    I spoke to him a year or so after he was released, and during our conversation asked why he wasn’t pressing charges in return. His response was that he understood her motivations for lying (long story but she was in an abusive relationship and was pressured by her boyfriend to make the accusation). He said that he knew false reports were very uncommon and he felt the system worked exactly as it should have in that situation – the police trusted her story, and arrested him. He said he wished the system had worked like that when other friends and family members of his had reported their own, very real sexual assaults to authorities in the past.

    Anyways, the point of sharing this story is to hopefully provide a different perspective for all the commenters who think this guy should get to keep his job until a verdict is made. Yes, sometimes (very rarely) people make false accusations. But the fear that some men have about being falsely accused of assault doesn’t even touch the fear that women feel when they are (pretty commonly) assaulted. And if my friend, after all he went through, was capable of understanding that and keeping his empathy – you should be too.

      1. La nariz azul*

        Whereas from my perspective, it’s beyond appalling that someone should be able to purposefully lodge false, life-destroying charges against someone with absolutely no consequences. He should have sued her for civil damages.

        1. Forrest*

          Well, only if everyone who has been assaulted or rape and gets no justice from the justice system is allowed to sue too.

        2. Homo neanderthalensis*

          Interesting that you seem to have ignored the “abusive partner put up woman to make false claim” bit of the story above. If there was physical evidence of a rape and the innocent man was fingered it probably means she was raped- by the partner. Who under threat of more violence made the false claim. The poor innocent man had enough character to recognize that to peruse civil charges would only punish someone further for the actions of an abusive partner.

          1. The Supreme Troll*

            And I can only hope that better, much much better things can come to Just a Friend’s old pal…but it cannot compensate for all the unnecessary shit that was forced upon him!

    1. Jennifer*

      I think it’s wonderful that your friend had that attitude. I also think that if someone went through an ordeal similar to the Exonerated Five and felt angry at the system for how it treats minorities and the poor as well as how it treats victims and accusers, that’s fine too.

  41. Newly Hired*

    This actually happened at my previous workplace, but it was for sexual assault. The employee in question was captured by surveillance cameras at the scene (but was not filmed during the actual attack) wearing a shirt with our logo. He claimed that he didn’t do it and was extremely drunk and just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The attack happened at around 2 am and then he showed up for work at around 4 am that morning, so if even if his story is true, that would mean he showed up to work drunk, which would be a fireable offense on its own. He immediately went on unpaid leave and then eventually was terminated. I believe he is still awaiting trial.

    1. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Protip: Do not get drunk wearing corporate sponsored gear.

      Because even without the assault piece, if there was video of one my employees wearing a company logo acting like a drunken ass, I would fire them.

  42. Sleepytime Tea*

    I… am of two minds. I am also a rape survivor. Knowing that my co-worker was accused of rape, and the rarity of false accusations (much less actual arrests based on anything less than some pretty strong evidence), I would have SERIOUS issues walking into the same building with them. I would feel similarly about any violent crime really, but knowing how many people are victims of sexual assault, I imagine there is a disproportionate number of people who would feel similarly about rape versus say, a mugging.

    That said, I have been convicted of a crime. It wasn’t violent (it wasn’t even really on purpose, but that’s beside the point) and if I had lost my job because of it, it would have been extremely difficult in an already difficult time of my life. It had nothing to do with my job, or any way related to the work I did, and people make stupid mistakes, or there are all sorts of extenuating circumstances you don’t know about. (Hard to apply that logic to rape, but I’m thinking on the whole about firing people who are accused of a crime.)

    I think in practice, saying “you were arrested for a crime so we’re going to fire you” is a terrible idea. For violent crimes… I feel you have a duty to your employees to protect them, but it isn’t black and white and needs to be handled on a case by case basis. Got in a stupid bar fight and got arrested while you work as a peon in a call center? You shouldn’t lose your job. Beat someone until they were unconscious and ended up in the hospital? You obviously have anger issues and problems with sound decision making, which DOES impact your job and your safety in the workplace, and being placed on unpaid leave and/or being let go from the company seems reasonable. And when it comes to sexual assault… I know I’m biased, but I have to agree with the company’s move to remove them from their workforce as a serious liability.

    1. Observer*

      The key here is to differentiate between different situations. The type of crime, and the position the person is in.

      Your examples are pretty good.

  43. Ann Furthermore*

    Years ago, I worked on the implementation of a new HR system, and worked very closely with everyone in the HR department for about a year, and was privy to more confidential information than I would have been otherwise. The weekend before the project launched, everyone was onsite, all working in a big conference room, which is how I knew about any of this.

    Someone had emailed HR and said that one of their co-workers had threatened to come to the office with a gun. The VP of HR immediately sprang into action. The employee’s network access was suspended, and his badge was deactivated so he no longer had access to the building. The sheriff showed up and was in an office with the VP for quite awhile. Signs were printed and hung at all the entrances with the employee’s picture, with instructions to not let him into the building, and to call building security if he approached anyone. And that’s just what I was aware of.

    For me, as an outside observer, I thought the VP took all the appropriate steps, and I was glad to see her taking the situation so seriously. It made me feel like my employer was committed to making the workplace as safe as possible.

    But. A few months later, that same VP was fired very abruptly, without any explanation (or at least nothing that was widely shared). It was a quick 2-line email from the CEO, saying that effective immediately, the VP was no longer an employee, and he wished her luck in the future. When that happens, you know that something went down, and that it probably wasn’t pretty. What I heard through the grapevine later is that she’d been fired mainly because of the way she’d handled that situation I described above — not because of any of the actions taken were out of line, but because all of those things were done without ever talking to the accused employee and getting his side of the story.

    After I thought about it, I realized that yeah, all those things she did were very premature. Every precaution put into place was done so based on an email from one employee making unproven accusations. Can you imagine being falsely accused of something like that, and having your job stripped away and your reputation damaged on the say-so of a single unsubstantiated email?

    Companies need to tread carefully in situations like this. Of course you don’t want your other employees to feel unsafe, but you don’t want to cause harm to an employee who could very well be innocent.

    1. Environmental Compliance*

      I’m really not sure I would support someone getting fired because their response to a potentially deadly situation was to restrict access to the employee supposedly threatening the action. What was she supposed to do – call the employee and ask if they were planning on shooting up the office that day? Who in the world is going to respond to that with a “well, yes, now that you mention it, that was my plan today, actually.”?

      (FWIW, I would have followed up with the accusing employee and investigated that quite thoroughly at the same time as locking everything down, so maybe that’s what’s lacking, but still…)

      1. Littorally*

        Agreed.

        We had a client make a similar threat at my old job. Granted, the likelihood of execution was low as we were located in Maryland and he was in the Yukon Territory, but low is not zero. Threats of workplace violence need to be taken very seriously indeed.

    2. Observer*

      Yeah, if that’s what she was fired, that is a problem. Sure, there should have been a suspension and investigation. And if the accusation was a fabrication, the accuser should have been fired. But “talk to him before you do anything”? Seriously?! And what would they have said if the guy HAD shown up with ammo?

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah, I am thinking if I were fired in that situation, I would hold my head up and be saying, “Good riddance” as I walked out the door.

        I can see sitting her down for a talk/training session. I can see developing some SOPs in case that ever happens again. If the SOPs are in place, I can see making her read the manual again. But dang, this person jumped into motion and did something for her company and her people she was in charge of. She’s strong, she’s decisive, this is all very workable. It’s up to the company to make sure she knows how they want things handled.

        It sounds like it all worked into a non-issue and that is why they fired her? What about the emailer who basically cried wolf? That person gets to keep their job???

    3. 3DogNight*

      I’m thinking the rumor is BS. The authorities were called, and they would be the ones to investigate. Her first job is to keep everyone at work safe, which is what she did.

    4. The Supreme Troll*

      Ann Furthermore, the VP’s precautions were not premature in the least. That VP should have been praised & commended for the steps that she took and not treated the way that she was. This was totally uncool.

  44. Detective Amy Santiago*

    I think the company was perfectly justified in terminating him for being a no call/no show for multiple days.

    The details of why he was a no call/no show are mostly irrelevant. Someone should have thought to reach out to his job.

    1. Temperance*

      Wow. This is a super damaging, and SUPER inaccurate, take. Rape/sexual assault allegations are not commonly brought for “revenge accusations”. Please do some research before saying shit like this.

      And … I’m not surprised at all that someone who worked in LE has this take. Why do you think so many women don’t report?

      1. Works in IT*

        I wasn’t even thinking about revenge accusations, what immediately comes to mind for me is the cases you see on crime shows where someone else was in the wrong place at the wrong time and was arrested for something a serial criminal did. Which only becomes apparent after the serial criminal continues on their crime spree. Revenge accusations are so rare, they feature more in fiction than in reality. Current court cases being the exception, not the rule.

      2. Elysian*

        I read Alice’s comment as saying that, in the group of things that could be called “revenge accusations”, many accusations are of rape (this is presumably a small but non-zero group). That is different than “lots of rape accusation are revenge accusations.”

        1. Temperance*

          I actually don’t think that it is different. “I see a lot of ‘revenge accusations’ for rape” has the same implication as “a lot of rape accusers are doing it to get revenge”.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Thank you.

        When we have people like Brock Turner serving three months after being convicted, I don’t want to hear that there are scads of innocent men being arrested for not committing this crime.

    2. Well Then*

      Like Squeakrad said, false rape accusations are incredibly rare, and an arrest based on one even rarer still. Given the vicious stigma against rape survivors, it’s irresponsible to come on here and state (without any factual support) that false accusations are “more common” than false reports of other crimes. Again, the data completely contradicts you, and this could be really harmful to survivors and to people who are already inclined to believe that survivors are lying.

      Dropping a link for moderation. https://www.google.com/

    3. Lalaroo*

      It’s absolutely unsurprising to hear that you were in law enforcement and then read that you think false accusations of rape and sexual assault are more common that other types of false accusations. This is absolutely not the case, and attitudes like yours are a huge reason why many victims never come forward.

  45. HR*

    Unfortunately, I’ve been in this situation multiple times. Based on guidance from our attorneys we follow our procedures. Most time we end up terming the person under our no call no show policy. In every case that I termed someone under this policy they weren’t great employees to begin with and would have been fired eventually any way due to attendance and performance issues.

    In two different situations we did not fire the employees as they did not violate our attendance policy. They alerted us of the arrest but did not miss work. One of these was indeed rape. Our attorney said we needed to follow policy and not make a decision based on an arrest. We had to wait until the courts made a decision. We notified them the court decision would determine if their employment continued.

    1. HR Too*

      Agree. The reason for his termination could have been a policy violation other that the alleged crime itself.

  46. Smuckers*

    One question about being suspended without pay: can you collect unemployment during this time period? If I was falsely accused of something and had to pay for a lawyer, I would want whatever option would let me bring some income in. And keep my health benefits. Suspension seems like a good compromise if unemployment is still an option.

    I very much believe in innocent until proven guilty, but I would *not* want to work alongside someone credibly accused of rape. At the very least, the company should consider assigning the employee to work that can be done remotely and with minimal interaction with coworkers. And I wouldn’t give them anything public facing.

  47. ElizabethJane*

    I’d fire him for bad PR to the company and poor judgment. Assuming he’s a white guy it’s not that hard to not get arrested for rape. I’d actually say it’s incredibly hard to get arrested.

  48. stiveee*

    Not surprised that someone who worked in law enforcement is biased against victims-less paperwork that way.

  49. Anonyforthis*

    I’m in Finance, and I had a co-worker investigated and subsequently arrested by the Secret Service for felony credit card fraud. She let our boss know immediately and stayed on staff for another month, but was ultimately let go. The case still hasn’t been resolved, due to pandemic, though.

    At a previous job, our Ops Manager hired ex-cons to work in the warehouse. They were model employees.

    1. Ash*

      I generally live by two somewhat contradictory credos: Everyone deserves a second chance, and Past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. We do know, though, that lack of stable employment and housing are directly linked to recidivism. So I am all for making sure formerly incarcerated people have jobs. But the type of job is important. Should someone with a history of serious violent crime work in a caring profession? Probably not. Should someone who has committed multiple thefts be in charge of a company’s finances? Also probably not. But I’m pretty sure we can find something suitable for most people who have been incarcerated.

      1. Anonapots*

        Absolutely. If you went to prison for poisoning bread, you maybe can’t get a job in a bakery. Does that mean you should never work again? No. If you want to reduce recidivism, you give people the tools they need to avoid the situations that lead them to recidivism.

  50. Crivens!*

    I don’t see anyone saying it’s false. Many of us are saying it’s vanishingly rare, which is statistically true. Sorry, you don’t get to argue with objective fact.

  51. AW*

    I am not sure how I feel about the situation, but was at a company that had a situation where they fired employee right after an arrest occurred. It wasn’t for rape, but for animal cruelty charges where they found multiple animals in poor condition in his house. Apparently he was recently separated from his wife and children so he was living alone and neglected to take care of all the pets. The company found out about the situation and promptly fired him for it while he was still in custody due to the local media coverage it received on the day it occurred. Not sure if it was warranted, but I have a feeling he was fired due to performance of the project he was managing with a significant client and the situation gave the company a reason to let him go. He was obviously not in the right mental state and always did seem off to me when I worked with him.

  52. lisette*

    I hire people to work at military bases and run into this type of thing all the time. It really is tough. I strongly believe in innocent until proven guilty and in people being able to have full lives after criminal convictions. I also have to hire people who can get and maintain a security clearance, so often these decisions are out of my hands.

    Just recently, we made an offer for someone who was on terminal leave with the military, so basically he would be able to begin working on base as a civilian prior to his separation from the military. Since he was active duty when we began working with him, we made him the offer before our private background check came back. Then we got the results of the background check, and he had a felony charge with a court date a month after his scheduled start date with us. Since his court date was still pending, we of course didn’t know if he would be convicted or not. We ended up having to pull the job offer because 1) we felt he would not be able to maintain his security clearance and 2) he did not disclose the charge on our telephonic pre-screening or on his signed disclosure form (which specifically asks for self disclosure of any misdemeanor or felony charge).

    Several years ago, one of our employees was arrested while working on base. This of course triggered immediate revocation of his security clearance, and so we had no choice but to immediately terminate his employment before we had any details. I ended up getting the police report on that one, and it was BAD.

  53. Bex*

    First, Allison – any chance you could add a CW or similar to the top of this letter? While it doesn’t get into details, just having the accusation there was alarming to have suddenly jump out (I was expecting drunk driving or assault, to be honest).

    Second – I think unpaid leave pending results of trial would have been more appropriate here. Simply because we need to try and internalize and truly believe in “innocent until proven guilty”. Keeping that mindset across all levels of our lives – professional and personal – is important. It helps to break old bad thought habits. It helps to work towards giving others a fair shake (including those more likely to be impacted by policing conduct and activities, including BIPOC).

  54. Roscoe*

    Personally, I’m not a fan of firing someone based on arrests. The US justice system is pretty notorious for arresting the wrong people. And even if they arrested the right person, that doesnt’ mean they are guilty. But now you have decided that they are not only on trial, but without a job based on something that may or may not be true.

  55. HRBee*

    I went through something very similar earlier this year. An employee of ours was arrested. We found out when his lawyer called us to get his timesheet records (his wife had called in on his behalf the day before stating a ‘family emergency’). He was arrested for rape, but had actually been at work – for us – during the time in which the accuser claimed he’d raped her. He was released and all charges dropped before the week was out and back to work on Monday.

    I do live in a state that protects arrest records so we would not have been able to terminate him for the arrest alone, at least legally. I think my situation was obviously a little different in that everything was resolved exceedingly quick. There was still a debate over firing him due to his wife’s call out lie, but in the end it was decided to let him stay.

    Given my state laws, I’m definitely in the unpaid suspension camp. But personally, certain arrests (rape, murder, violence, financial fraud for accounting/payroll) really warrant a deeper look than the law allows.

    1. Case of the Mondays*

      Do you really felt the wife lied? Getting falsely arrested for a crime is indeed “dealing with a family emergency” in my book. Even if you are arrested for something you did, getting arrested is a family emergency.

      1. HRBee*

        She was more specific in her description of family emergency and heavily implied he’d traveled out of the country.

  56. In a quandary*

    I’m very torn about this situation. Of course, rape/sexual assault is a horrendous crime and I do sympathize with the victim/survivor.
    However, I also know of someone falsely accused of such an act — a prominent, well-respected and admired Catholic priest. His arrest made national and international news. He was removed from ministry. However, after a year, his case was thrown out and his accuser (a high-up official with an axe to grind) was ordered to pay monetary damages.
    Unfortunately, the priest’s employer — the diocese in which he is stationed — is stalling and not letting him resume his ministry. Everyone — and I do mean everyone — knows this priest is totally innocent of these horrendous charges but he’s not allowed to resume his life. Is that fair?

    1. Observer*

      Links? Or some more information? Given the history of the Catholic Church in this regard, this is indeed an outlier I’m not talking about the false accusation, but that they won’t let him resume his ministry, not only in his original diocese but in any other diocese.

  57. Roscoe*

    Well, I’m a black man in America. Our history is full of white women who have falsely accused black men of rape when its not the case. I’m not comfortable just throwing out the justice system based on feelings

        1. JSPA*

          Megan’s Law site for CA has this.

          The numbers largely fall out from the fact that ~80% of assailants of victims over age 12 are known to their victims, and that America is still very segregated, not in an absolute sense of “zero mixing,” but in the sense that a heck of a lot of workplaces, families, places of worship, hobbies and hangouts are strongly racially skewed, thus the list of people in each others’ “trust bubble” is similarly skewed.

          [Extra trigger warnings for everything, as the references are not only to adult victims.]

          Copy pasta from the website, which you can find by google, it’s Megan’s Law, California, and a .gov website, and the page is “Education_MythsAndFacts.”

          “Over 90% of child victims know their offender, with almost half of the offenders being a family member. Of sexual assaults against people age 12 and over, approximately 80% of the victims know the offender.”

          ” Most child sexual abusers offend against children whom they know and with whom they have established a relationship. Many sexual assaults of adult women are considered “confidence rapes,” in that the offender knows the victim and has used that familiarity to gain access to her.”

          “Most sexual assaults are committed by someone of the same race as the victim. An exception to this is that people who commit sexual assault against Native Americans are usually not Native American (American Indians and Crime, 1999).”

          “false reports of child molestation and rape are not the norm. National research shows that false rape reports range between 2-8%.”

      1. Jennifer*

        You should watch the video of Amy Cooper in Central Park, screaming into the phone to the police that a black man was assaulting her. My husband has been pulled over, detained, made to get out of his vehicle, and guns put in his face by police, all because of someone’s word or because someone thought he “fit the description.”

        I get what people are saying about false accusations, but the point Roscoe is making is also valid. That’s why this is such a difficult question.

        1. Ash*

          I have of course seen the video, and I do think Roscoe’s point is of course valid. My point is that too often, men of color use false accusations historically by white women in the service of white supremacy to deflect from the fact that women of color are largely victimized by men of the same race as themselves. I’m not saying that’s what Roscoe is doing. I am saying that is what I have seen time and again as men of color’s reactions to feminist anti-violence organizing by women of color.

          1. Jennifer*

            I have seen this as well and have experienced it personally. It’s very painful. This is such a tough subject.

      2. Troutwaxer*

        Historically it’s not an uncommon thing, however. I would suggest googling, maybe with the phrase “false rape accusations against black men.” I’m sure the same holds true for Hispanic Men, Asian men, etc.

        1. Ash*

          The same does not hold true for other men of color in the United States, at least not to the extreme extent that Black men have faced it. Black men, due to the history of slavery, have uniquely been scapegoated as violent towards white women. Meanwhile, Black women were actually systematically raped by white men both during slavery and afterwards. I have done extensive research and learning on this topic in the larger context of my political education about racism and white supremacy in the United States. That doesn’t change the fact that in 2020, it is rare for people of different races to be involved in a sexual assault case, whether founded or unfounded.

  58. totally anon*

    My former employer hired someone who had recently been arrested for four counts of rape, then put him on a plane with me and booked us in the same hotel. (Not telling their employees about his arrest). He had just moved to my state from far away. I was so shaken when I discovered this that I quit that week. The man HAD been creepy. I absolutely think they should have not hired someone who had told them before they ran a background check about his recent arrest, and I quit because I felt they endangered my safety. I also told the other people I worked with and two other women quit that week, too. It’s easy to say “innocent until proven guilty,” but to me, I felt like they were almost setting me up to be assaulted.

    1. Temperance*

      Yep. After college, I worked at a “family restaurant” that had a creepy skeezer manager. They didn’t fire him, even after multiple lawsuits. He once said to me that “if I wanted to mutually agree to something, and it was our mutual decision”, he was open to it; this was a proposition that was clearly not okay, but worded as such not to be actionable.

      That wasn’t the problem, though. Marvin (real name, because f that guy) hired another guy, Tim, as a contractor to do some repairs in the restaurant. I had heard from a friend that Tim (also real name, because f that guy) was a convicted rapist who assaulted his teenage stepdaughter. I confirmed with the PA Megan’s Law website.

      Long story short, he was. I informed my female coworkers, and let Marvin and the other manager know what I knew. Marvin was PISSED, because he couldn’t hire someone with that record for that job. He had recently been released from prison, and Tim was working nights, when I was alone with the cook. He actively put me in an unsafe position, and was mad when I warned other women and blew up his spot.

  59. Introvert girl*

    If you only look at the facts (thank you Crivens!) this crime has a very small rate of perpetrators actually being arrested or even prosecuted. It’s a bit similar to war crimes. Only a small number actually get caught and a lot of people are afraid to press charges. But what I wonder is, because of this employee being so well known, that the company probably knows his character and behaviour. Having a well known employee generates sales, and I wouldn’t wonder if

    1. Introvert girl*

      pressed enter too soon :) I wouldn’t wonder if the company allowed more leniency not to lose him. We don’t know if he’s had dealings with HR or other employees. We don’t know if all of this came out of the blue. But if a company fired him, I think they know more about him than we do.

  60. Abogado Avocado*

    Trigger Alert: This is a tough subject for those who have suffered assault, just as it is a tough subject for those who have been falsely accused and convicted of rape.

    I am an attorney who has worked for 30 years in the criminal law arena and there is no consensus in the criminal justice field regarding how many allegations — whether regarding rape or any other criminal allegation — are false. Even when the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia stated in a dissent that the conviction error rate in the U.S. was .027 percent (and therefore it is constitutionally okay to execute the innocent), it yielded years of law review articles about the falsity of that statistic.

    If those who are alleging a false sexual assault allegation rate have a source for that rate, cite it. Please be aware that any rate that relies on the David Lisak study, know that the study has been debunked. (Among other problems, the study counts as “true” allegations in cases that didn’t qualify as sexual assault, had insufficient evidence to make a determination, or were referred for prosecution but about which the outcome was unknown.)

    Statistics aside, the issue that has been raised here forces a collision between the ideals upon which our criminal justice system was founded (e.g., that defendants are innocent unless proven guilty and that it is better for 10 guilty people to go free than one innocent person to be convicted) and those who believe that to be serious about sexual assault is to #believeallwomen. It would be terrific if criminal justice research could assign a universally accepted value to false allegations for all sorts of crimes, but, sadly, it does not.

    1. employment lawyah*

      Yup. Much of the debate over falsity rates and the yelling over studies involves differences in definitions.

      To use a simple and common example:
      *A fully believes that A has been victimized by B (not necessarily rape)
      *A makes a good-faith report accuses B of a crime (not necessarily rape).
      *A accurately describes facts to police and does not embellish or lie.
      *B gets arrested/summonsed based on the low “probable cause” standard.
      *Investigation shows that B’s conduct, as described by A, does not meet the criminal requirements for that crime, and the case never proceeds to court.

      Now:
      1) Has A made a “false accusation?” (Most people, including me, would say no. A did what A could. It isn’t A’s fault that A did not know the criminal code. A was non-malicious and told the truth at all times.)

      2) Were the criminal accusations against B true or false? (Most people would say “false,” since B was accused of, but cannot legally be guilty of, a crime.)

      3) Has B been “falsely accused?” (Basically every single person who has ever been in B’s situation would say “hell, yes!” Third parties vary widely in their responses. For what it’s worth, it seems virtually all rape reporters would say “no.”)

      1. employment lawyah*

        Laypeople often do not understand how much nuance there is just in DISCUSSING this stuff. And it really frustrates people to know that our system is deliberately set up so that:
        a) Not all bad things are illegal; and
        b) not all illegal things are provable.

        I mean, if you want serious debate, do those same questions except instead of “Investigation shows that B’s conduct, as described by A, does not meet the criminal requirements for that crime, and the case never proceeds to court,” use

        “at trial, B is found not guilty.”

        1. Lora*

          Understand your point, but then what good is the law as written? If there is no justice for victims, what is the point at all of trying to utilize the justice system, when all you get is a pile of crap and more abuse heaped on your head?

          When laws are this poorly written and enforced, disengagement with society is only the first problem they create.

          1. Forrest*

            Yes, one thing that always strikes me is that a lot of the opposition to #MeToo and earlier movements is people who are basically //just fine// with the criminal justice system being bad at identifying rapists and sexual abusers, as long as it’s continues to err on the side of leniency to perpetrators, are also the same people who cry that false allegations ruin lives, and don’t seem to get that the two things are linked. The vast majority of allegations do not even come close to ruining lives, but of we accept the much lower level of “allegations which are never proven in court continue to affect the accused (a little bit, in that occasionally people might mention them on twitter when your new film comes out)” that is BECAUSE people don’t trust the legal system to correctly identify rapists and abusers. If you want us to be able to tell the difference between a true allegation that can’t be proven in court and an untrue allegation, you’d better get working on the justice system! And there are literally tons of recommendations on how to do that already from legal experts, from how the law is drafted to the trainings of law enforcement officials to properly funding investigations and so on. Like, I don’t think the legal system will ever be the perfect route for successfully holding abusers accountable, but it could easily be a lot LESS bad at it if anyone’s in power thought that was a useful priority.

            1. employment lawyah*

              No, it is not “easy” to solve. It’s incredibly HARD to solve. And there is not even really a “solution,” just an arbitrary “OK, this balance of things seems OK.”

              There are multiple competing goals and almost every single change you make to help one goal will end up causing damage to another one of your goals, so you cannot meet them all at the same time.

              For a simple example, “treating everyone exactly the same” is a common goal for many folks. So is “treating people according to their personal and life situation.” You can have equality OR equity OR some of each. You can’t have all of both: Those goals are, quite literally, opposites.

              As for #MeToo… meh. If the #MeToo folks were honest & up front about things, maybe the civil libertarians could have a good faith discussion w/ them. Shit is what it is, you know? Like, I do not shrink from admitting that “protecting the rights of criminal defendants” means some guilty people will go free. That’s just reality. But the #MeToo folks spend a lot of their time simultaneously pushing things they want and denying that those things will have tradeoffs, which makes the discussion impossible.

              1. Paperwhite*

                Well that’s a convenient way to dismiss the thousands and thousands of women who have come forward about being harassed, assaulted, and so on. And the trragedy of it is that your comments about the shapes of legalities were really useful till that point.

              2. Keymaster of Gozer*

                Because asking the men nicely if they’d stop harrassing us wasn’t working. MeToo was an important movement to give us a voice and finally get across that we’re done keeping this quiet. If it made a few people uncomfortable…that’s something they should look at as to why.

                The ‘you just didn’t ask for your rights in a certain manner to be acceptable’ routine is getting old.

          2. employment lawyah*

            The laws are usually clear enough. It’s mostly that the reporting and discussion are bad.

            It’s an unfortunate reality that most of the population does not take the time and energy to study this in detail, and perhaps our laws should be rewritten to be more comprehensible to laypeople. But honestly blaming this on the law is a bit of a stretch, as much of this seems to be caused by a lack of factual understanding by the complainants.

        2. JSPA*

          There’s use, misuse, and abuse.

          It’s a shame “misuse” has lost its place in language, because it served the important purpose of marking the misused person as deserving of great sympathy and support, and the misuser as unworthy of one’s time or friendship, un-hirable for positions requiring good character, and generally untrustworthy.

      2. Anon again*

        Yes. I had a boss who created a hostile work environment. While I think his motivations were gender based they were not sexual. He did things like deliberately change presentations to be incorrect and then pointed out my mistakes in large meetings where attention to detail was crucial. If I asked a clarifying question about an assignment he’d call me stupid and refuse to answer.

        I quit and in my exit interview mentioned to HR that he created what I believed was a hostile work environment. I had emails where he’d called me stupid, and documentation of changed presentations. My statements of “He did X” were accurate statements.

        HR determined this did not meet the requirements for a hostile work environment, legally speaking. After sitting down with them I understand and agree with their judgment. However it was a good faith report and I was not “falsely accusing him” of being a jerk. Furthermore, I’ve had a few former coworkers reach out and ask me about working for him as it would be a promotion. I forward them the emails he sent me and say “I would be unwilling to work with a verbally abusive and toxic boss”. I am careful to not say “hostile work environment” because in my mind that is inaccurate, but I’m not perpetuating any sort of false accusation by saying “ex-boss did this”.

        All of which is to say there is nuance. And “innocent until proven guilty” in a court of law does not necessarily entitle someone to a job.

  61. JSPA*

    False accusations are rare (though of course, not zero).

    Depending on circumstances, however, one also has to account for mistaken identity–whether due to the leading of witnesses, over-reliance on discredited physical evidence technology, or circumstantial evidence is, in all crimes, far too common.

    And these days, identity theft can also be a thing (as can swatting via misleading profiles). Catfishing and using celebrity photos are not the worst identity crimes that flourish in dating apps.

    Links in followup post.

    None of this means that the person should be in the workplace. LWOP (or even leave with pay, taken out of paid vacation and then paid sick leave) might make sense, if the employee’s preferences can be ascertained.

    1. Ash*

      In criminal justice circles, LWOP stands for “life without parole” so I felt a little jarred to see it in regards to a workplace! But then I realized it meant leave without pay.

  62. Harissa*

    This is a very challenging situation, and depending on the nature of the job, the company may not have a choice but to let this person go. I worked at a community center that also ran a daycare. Every single person hired had to undergo fingerprinting and a serious background check, as well as disclosing any *arrests* in their past (not convictions, just arrests). They were given the opportunity to write down the circumstances of the arrest. Anytime someone who worked for us got arrested, we got a notification and had to investigate. If it was something non-serious and non-violent, they generally could continue to work as usual. But something serious (like a staff member accused of domestic violence, which happened to one of my staff members) warranted the person either not being able to work there or not being able to work with the children anymore. This particular staff member was eventually let go because his case kept getting continued (he was out on bail and doing admin work) and we couldn’t keep employing someone who couldn’t do the main job he was hired to do.

    1. MaureenSmith*

      I like the approach. Disclosure is required, then analysis and appropriate action depending on the reason for the arrest, rather than a blanket ban. There are a number of crimes where it’s better to remove contact with the vulnerable until it can be verified as true or false.

  63. hbc*

    I think it’s bad practice (and maybe even immoral) to fire someone *just* because they were arrested. There’s zero standard of proof required for an arrest.

    But any number of things can and should be taken into account. How serious the crime is, whether charges are even filed, how public the position, how vulnerable other employees will be in their presence, and how good an employee they’ve been. It’s not exactly fair if an unjust arrest is the straw that broke the camel’s back with their employer, but if they were often missing work for dubious reasons or a bunch of coworkers say “well, if I had to pick a reason Pat would get arrested…,” they’re not going to get the benefit of the doubt.

    1. Brett*

      The crime matters relatively to the standard of proof too.
      Arrests for sexual assault are normally _after_ a warrant is issued and frequently after an indictment has been issued. This is pretty common for felony arrests.

  64. employment lawyah*

    For employment:

    Yeah, sure. Generally businesses can fire at-will employees for various reasons, including generic mistrust. They can fire this person, too.

    It isn’t necessarily a GOOD thing (accusations are not convictions; public sentiment is notably unreliable and biased) but it’s probably OK in most cases.
    ——————–
    As for “false:” I have actually read ta huge number of the underlying studies and reports (not the reporting but the studies themselves) and I will simply say that
    a) the study authors are usually pretty clear, and studies generally pretty good, but the science *reporting* is often horrible;
    b) the matter is very complex and has a lot of variable; it requires a lot of nuance to discuss correctly; and
    c) not only is the reporting generally bad, but it is made even MORE complex by the use of common terms to mean a whole host of different things (depending on the paper and reporter.)

    For example: Criminal law (rape and otherwise) is based on the actions and beliefs of the ACCUSED. Much reporting of rape is, for obvious reasons, based on the beliefs of the ACCUSER. Reporters treat this in dramatically different ways, with radically different outcomes.

    Similarly, the word “false accusation” can mean, in general usage, anything from “wrong” to “inaccurate” to “not entirely true” all the way to its most restrictive, “deliberate lies which have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt not to be true.”

    Unless you’ve read all the stuff in the original, this is rarely clear.

    1. Brett*

      So many studies are based off UCR and NIBRS as well, which already have many issues related to different jurisdiction standards, how an incident is interpreted, intentional underreporting, etc. Except for studies of individual jurisdictions, rarely are they based on calls for service.

  65. Nacho*

    I once had a co-worker fired for driving drunk. Technically, I think the reason he was fired is that he stopped showing up for work, but he stopped showing up for work because he was in jail. He was a very loud, angry man who used to pick fights with everybody on the team and the customers we were supporting (supervisor in a phone bank), so I’m a little surprised he lasted as long as he did.

    1. TPS reporter*

      Something similar happened at my company. The person’s job is purely administrative so not something directly affected by drunk driving. However, they were also a very nice person with longevity. We gave them a chance, let them take a leave for rehab. We had a PIP in place (actual performance issues did ensue after return from rehab) and eventually let them go. How much you value the person and their role I think certainly affects the reaction after the arrest.

  66. Beth*

    On a purely practical level, an employee failing to show up for several days with no notice and no contact would generally be fired based on that alone. If the company wants to end their association with the employee, that’s an easy enough way to do it; it’s absolutely unremarkable to fire someone for job abandonment, nothing controversial there.

    On a moral level…it depends on so much. I agree with OP that firing everyone who is arrested or held in jail for a couple days is not the way to go. Arrests don’t mean guilt, and I would bet most people don’t have their boss’s number memorized to call in without access to their cell phone or other records. In many cases (for example, if someone is arrested and held but later cleared), the unplanned absence should probably be handled like an unexpected hospitalization; it’s disruptive, it may take several days to get the employer fully in the loop, but it’s out of the employee’s control and should be viewed as extenuating circumstances rather than a fireable offense.

    But rape does change that, I think, especially in a public-facing role. Rape is particularly tricky because of how bad our system is at handling it legally. We know sexual assault happens way more often than anyone gets arrested for it, and we know that plenty of those who do get arrested are ultimately not convicted due to factors like lack of evidence or the victim being unable or unwilling to drag out the process. This means that no matter how the case turns out, there will always be a possibility in people’s minds that he did it. (This is one reason that everyone, including men, should be pushing for a better system on this issue! The current system means we have to keep being suspicious no matter how the legal process turns out, because we know we can’t trust it.) Given that, how is any woman supposed to interact with this man comfortably? Are all of his female coworkers, customers, viewers, etc. supposed to just pretend the elephant in the room isn’t there? There’s a solid case to be made that simply by being publicly accused of sexual assault, he is no longer able to do his job as the business requires. That’s terrible for him, if he is innocent, but I don’t see a great way around it from a business perspective.

  67. ATM*

    Reading the questions, and the comments, I realized that I 100% would be biased based on the race of your coworker – if Black, I’d assume innocent, White, I’d assume guilt. Other races? I don’t know. I think its because the two big cultural pin points in my brain would be Emmett Till and Brock Turner.

    I wish I had a better response, but I don’t, I’m sorry, except that I can’t blame the company for firing him. I’m not 100% certain thats what I would do, but I can’t blame them.

    1. Anonymouse*

      Slightly tangential to your comment but the race bias part of it reminded me of something:
      There was an interesting report I heard a long time ago (wish I could find it again) that was talking about the racial and gender breakdowns of reactions to OJ Simpson’s exoneration. Some researchers were surprised at the reactions not faulting on race lines but faulting on gender lines–many black men felt victorious and exuberant about the exoneration but black women felt betrayed.

      1. ATM*

        Thats really interesting. I don’t want to speculate too much on why – I’m white – but I wonder why that was.

        1. Paperwhite*

          Not least as a Black woman, I have some thoughts but they’d be better suited for a smaller conversation.

  68. HRABC*

    We encountered this before, too. The employee was arrested at work for a sex based crime involving children. He claimed a misunderstanding led to the arrest. Executive management made the call to take the risk and fire him, due to potential adverse publicity for a company with public contracts. He was awarded unemployment by the state on the basis that he was not fired for employment related conduct. The company was surprised by that.

    1. jcarnall*

      That… actually seems just?

      On both sides. I think an employer has a right to decide that someone accused of a sex-based crime involving children, has brought their employer into disrepute, and – even if not convicted – cannot work there again.

      But, given that the employee was not fired for employment-related conduct, it does seem only fair that they can claim unemployment from the state. Being accused of a crime, no matter how vicious the crime, doesn’t mean a person must be destitute awaiting trial.

  69. pope suburban*

    This happened at my last job, pretty much exactly the same way as the incident this letter. An employee didn’t show up or call in for a few days, and we found out he had been in jail for sexual assault of a minor. We found out a little after that that this was not the first time he had been arrested for that kind of crime. This was a job where he was coming into people’s homes, either without supervision or with one other person who would be occupied with their work. Some of these homes had children. He would also be in the building alone with female employees- and he did in fact tie one of our designers up in her office late one day, when no one else was around, and refused to leave even though he had no reason to be there. She was terrified, understandably, and our boss was completely indifferent. I wasn’t shocked- we’d had a violent employee who stole a load of money/products and he was kept around until he just dropped off the face of the earth- but it was still revolting to know that our safety mattered so little in that office. I would absolutely warn someone applying there about that. It forever colored my perception of the company and of the boss. I don’t have an easy answer overall, but I know that sometimes, your only reasonable option is to let someone go or else risk losing a hell of a lot of talent and respect in your industry.

    1. pope suburban*

      Not literally “tie up;” rather he was just sort of lurking in the office and would not leave when she asked if he needed anything, which he did not. Fortunately, nothing more than that happened, but who knows what his motivations were (Maybe to scare her, maybe something worse, maybe he just felt like he could do whatever he wanted), and I can completely understand why she would feel threatened even without any physical contact or overt threats/sexual language.

  70. Nym*

    Baffled to see so many people in favour of firing on a mere arrest. In my (European) country firing would be illegal even in case of a conviction (that would lead to a suspension without pay for the duration of the sentence), unless the crime was directly work-related.

    I would have expected the US wouldn’t go that far, but “innocent until proven guilty” should be a central tenet of any humane society, both in theory AND in practice.

    1. employment lawyah*

      We have at-will employment here, as a rule. Which is to say, you can be fired for any reasons, i.e. “because because.” (Don’t assume this is all bad. It makes it a lot easier to get hired or promoted, too, when employers don’t have to commit to a lifetime of paying someone. There are always trade-offs in every system.)

      Anyway… in an at-will system where you can lay someone off because they like the Yankees, it makes little sense to prevent them from paying someone off because they are on the news as an accused rapist and your customers are lighting up the phone lines.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But there are exceptions to at-will employment — such as the EEOC’s prohibition on blanket policies of firing for any arrest. That may not apply here, but it’s not because of at-will employment.

        1. employment lawyah*

          Yes, agreed. In response to the “no firing unless proven guilty” argument, though, I didn’t think those mattered much.

      2. Nym*

        I’ve always considered at-will employment incredibly discriminatory. If you can fire someone for ‘no reason’ you can fire them for being black, pregnant, or disabled as long as you’ve got the basic discipline to avoid brining that up.

        I do think most European countries can greatly benefit from a bit of extra labour market flexibility, and the US is a great example of the direction we should go, but I wouldn’t like to go as far down that path as most American states currently are.

        1. employment lawyah*

          It *can* be discriminatory. And sometimes it certainly is; you’re talking about what are generally called “pretextual” firings and I am working on one right now. But actually it does not seem to be as much of an issue as you may think, for a simple reason:

          Q: “what’s even harder to prove than discriminatory pretextual firing?”
          A: “Discriminatory failure-to-hire.”

          IOW: Most of the people who would be tempted to fire for bad reasons can often manage to avoid hiring in the first place so the latter issue does not arise. It can still be illegal but impossible to win in most cases.

    2. Anon again*

      I fail to understand how a rape conviction could ever be considered non work related. I would quit on the spot if my coworker said “This is our employee, they served a sentence for rape, and now you must work with them every day knowing they committed this violent crime. Hope you feel safe!”

      1. Nym*

        Established case law in my country holds that rape within a relationship (so raping a current or ex-partner) isn’t work-related enough to merit firing. Apparently most people who do something horrific like that are still unlikely to do the same to a coworker or random passer-by.

        I happened to work with a convicted serial rapist for a few years, actually. I suppose he has to work somewhere, and we made sure to warn every new female employee and intern that came anywhere near him, but the guy has to work somewhere after all, and he’s happily married with a kid now.

        Also, what’s the alternative? If any convicted rapist could never hold a job again and was driven to the fringes of society I don’t think my community would be in a better place. We’ve had our chance as a society to determine a fair sentence during the case, he did his time, he deserves his second chance.

        1. Case of the Mondays*

          This. If we aren’t sentencing people for life, they need a way to earn a livelihood. That doesn’t mean a sex offender should work with children of course but it can’t mean that the crime alone makes you forever unemployable. If that’s the case, change the sentence to life.

          As an aside, hiring someone on probation/parole is probably safer than hiring a random person off the street. As addressed above, many people are never arrested for their sex crimes. Someone on supervision has their phone and internet use monitored, their employer watching them, their PO monitoring them, their therapist monitoring them, etc.

          1. Abby*

            “As an aside, hiring someone on probation/parole is probably safer than hiring a random person off the street.”

            What evidence do you have to back that claim up?
            I don’t think most people need to be monitored to assume they aren’t sexual predators.

        2. Forrest*

          I really hope that the release and rehabilitation was based on a more in-depth assessment of his likely recidivism than just “he did his time and deserved a second chance”.

        3. Paperwhite*

          We’ve had our chance as a society to determine a fair sentence during the case, he did his time, he deserves his second chance.

          Have we determined fair sentences, considering how dismissive Western societies tend to be of sexual assault and its aftereffects for the victim, and of how high the recidivism rates are for rapists?

        4. Gazebo Slayer*

          Sadly an awful lot of people end up at the fringes of society for much, much less than being a convicted serial rapist. Plenty of people are homeless or considered unemployable because of things like disabilities or just having a crappy work history. So I’m actually pretty okay with that being what happens when you’re convicted of multiple rapes.

    3. Observer*

      No, not at all. In humane societies, people should not be forced to employ violent criminals. And humane societies need to understand the difference between government action and private action. And people should be allowed to keep themselves safe even when there is not enough information to actually convict someone – unless you want to totally lower the bar to convicting criminals.

  71. Thursdaysgeek*

    My dad was fired after a false arrest. He was accused of molesting a child, arrested, spent a night in jail, fired. And then the young girl said who it really was (a parent or relative, not the man who used to think it was safe to walk a young girl to a park to keep her safe). After time, things were cleared up, and he got his job back.

    It was tough, but in some ways, especially for a crime like that, that may be the best option. Fire, to protect the company. And if it was a false arrest (rare), be willing to take them back, probably with back pay (like a suspension) and no loss of benefits (like years worked). I don’t know if he got any back pay, but he didn’t lose his seniority, and retired in good standing.

  72. Very very anonymous*

    This is unfortunately an area in which my partner and I have some experience. He’s an ER provider who had a patient file a sexual assault allegation against him with the police. He was not arrested, but the police came to the hospital, Mirandized him, asked for a statement (which he refused to give), and completed a police report characterizing the accusation as “felony sexual assault.”

    In his case, it was immediately clear with the slightest bit of investigation that the allegation had no merit. My partner was chaperoned through the entire exam that led to the accusation and the complainant agreed that she had consented to the exam; basically, everyone agreed that she had consented to the exam and he didn’t do anything OTHER than the exam to which she had given consent. (The complaint seems to have resulted from (1) the fact that the exam was done pretty quickly–it’s an ER, the incident happened during COVID times, and patient had symptoms consistent with COVID, so spouse was trying to work quickly and was decked out in full PPE, so not exactly a warm and fuzzy hospital visit; and (2) a non-treating nurse told the patient (incorrectly) that the exam wasn’t medically warranted–we still don’t know why the nurse said that, and she was given some kind of retraining).

    He was immediately placed on unpaid leave after the allegation was made. The hospital refused to let him back to work until the police investigation wrapped up–even though the hospital did their own investigation and cleared him of any wrongdoing. The police investigation took around 6 weeks, resulting in no charges being filed.

    Even though we realized very early he was unlikely to be charged with a crime, I really can’t understate the stress and anxiety this caused. The six weeks of unpaid leave did not help (especially since we had no idea how long it would last–we were told it could take up to 6 months for the prosecutor to make a charging decision). And, at the end of the day, he’s still the “doctor who was accused of rape” at his hospital. Even though he was completely cleared by the hospital’s own investigation (which faulted the nurse who gave incorrect information to the patient), it’s become an almost unbearable work environment. It was and is unbelievably frustrating that this happened during the pandemic, when he is literally risking his life to treat patients.

    So: I do understand that false allegations of rape are rare (even if many accusations never result in charges). But I do think as an employer you should do some investigation of the nature of the claims and the underlying evidence before firing an employee. I don’t think you necessarily need a conviction, but the arrest itself (or a complaint itself) should not be enough.