You walk into work. Your GM and Human Resources are waiting for you at your office door. They say, "please come with us." You know that something isn't right, but you aren't sure what that something is, so you follow the General Manager and the Human Resources Manager to their office or the conference room, where you learn that you have been mentioned in a sexual misconduct investigation. What do you do?
This has happened to many notable people all around the world, both inside and outside of broadcasting. Some of the latest include Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Walk, Bill Cosby, Tavis Smiley, James Levine, Russell Simmons, Al Franken, Dustin Hoffman, Steven Segal, and Kevin Spacey, to name several. Some of these accusations happened, but some of them may not have. Even though our law says innocent until proven guilty, we are presumed guilty until proven innocent, an error in the foundation of our legal system. Then, directly in the broadcast world, we have an accusation by Taylor Swift that Jackson (David Mueller) sqeezed her bottom at a concert that his Denver radio station was involved with. Did that really happen? While not one of us will truly ever know if this actually happened, we prematurely convicted David Mueller, way before his civil proceeding ever happened. David sat out for FIVE YEARS over this incident, and just recently got the opportunity to open the microphone again in Mississippi.
What is life like after the accusation occurs? What can you do to prove your innocence? If you are responsible, what do you do to accept what is being presented without accepting responsibility? KNOW YOUR RIGHTS. If you are approached in a situation where you know the accusations are not true, immediately request the presewnce of your legal representation or union representative. Try to identify the issues that led up to the incident. Could this have been avoided? Was the situation too playful? Remember, it is ALWAYS best to never have a romantic relationship within the walls of your employer. Be very thorough on your account of the activities that led up to this misconduct inquiry. While I don't want to dive too much further into this, if you are truly NOT GUILTY, you can overcome the accusations and go back to work. The question still remains, "How do you recover in a situation where you were falsely accused?)
False accusation is never pleasant. You have worked your entire adult life to build a favorable reputation for the talent that you provide on the radio and at community events. Then the accusation. You can overcome these types of situations, usally by being able to prove that the situation you were accused of was false. Spend time at your desk with a pen and paper, which will give you some time to recall the actions that led up to the misconduct claim. Sometimes when people review the things that have happened, they may remember something that could have ben a simple misunderstanding, which does happen from time to time. Any findings should be share with your counsel and union representative. Finally, do not admit guilt if you know you are NOT GUILTY (not a safehaven for those that truly committed a sexual misconduct offense.)
We will never know what truly happened between Dave Mueller and Taylor Swift. We will never know what happened with Matt Lauer. Charlie Walk is now claiming that he was set up (I like Charlie, by the way.) We may never know the answers to these misconduct inquiries, but, on the off chance that Charlie Walk DID get set up, someone destroyed parts of his career that he will never be able to fully regain. That is why it is really important to be able to defend the claim if it happens to you.
In closing, while this story focuses on how to proceed after the miscondsuct accusation, we DO NOT IN ANY WAY condone sexual misconduct in any workplace, and the many women within and outside of our industry have done an amazing job by coming out and exposing those who have inappropriately accosted them in any form.