Chad Hanlon is a Corporate Investigations and Security Services provider in the US. In his recent blog he cites a case study where words used as weapons by one worker to ”simply get a co-worker removed from his team”, resulted in the destruction of that person’s reputation in his community.
“It is only recently that we have started to take serious action against those in the workplace that hurtfully utilise words with intentions as serious as automatic weapons. The truth is that even simple innuendos of workplace romances can cause generations of hate and misfortune. Allegations of workplace romance can quite easily ruin already delicate marriages where several children may be involved; not only for one family but in most cases two. This is something I like to call The Madoff Effect – the wake that he left we will never know as generations will be forced to grow up with alternate plans due to one man’s malicious agenda. Slander, libel, character assassination, defamation; these are all terms that can now be descriptors as a result of the misuse of words.
We recently conducted a workplace harassment investigation in a reputable organisation where somebody’s world had been turned upside down both personally and professionally based on a co-worker’s spiteful use of words with the intention of simply getting the target off of his shift. The result turned the town upside down; this is the story of Paul and Bill.
The angry co-worker (Bill) decided that he would start a rumour stating that Paul had been showing inappropriate videos to an 18 year old female summer student with the hope that Paul would simply be removed from the same crew as Bill. The fact that the organisation and most of the workers resided in the same small town caused this plan to end with catastrophic results. The fact that the summer student’s father began to threaten Paul was the least of his worries. Paul’s family was in turmoil. He could no longer walk the streets in town; he could no longer go to the grocery store or even attend church as a result of this vicious lie. Even Bill was shocked at the result of his diabolical plan which continued to spin out of control. Eventually we were called in to conduct an investigation through interviews of several co-workers who were well aware of this ongoing feud. The investigation opened a Pandora’s Box that unveiled and implicated Bill in years of bullying with even further intimidated co-workers. Although the result for Bill was less than desirable, the result of this slander for Paul was irreparable. In the eyes of the public he would forever be labelled as ‘that guy’ regardless of his innocence because after all, as far as the public was concerned, there must have been some truth to it.”
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Blayne Webb, Director, Barringtons