Is It OK To Fire An Employee For A False Harassment Report?

Federal anti-discrimination law generally protects an employee who reports discriminatory conduct, including sexual harassment at work. However, do the legal protections apply when an employee knowingly makes a false report of being harassed?

Recently, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Virginia employers) answered this question with a definitive “no.” An article discussing the Fourth Circuit’s decision by DiMuroGinsberg attorney, Jayna Genti, appears in the August, 2017 issue of the Virginia Employment Law Letter. As Jayna’s article explains, the focus of analysis as to whether an employer acted unlawfully is on the employer’s subjective motivation for the action it took. If the employer’s subjective motivation was prompted by its belief that the report of harassment was knowingly false, then the employer may not be liable for illegal retaliation.

If you would like to obtain a copy of Jayna’s article entitled “Fourth Circuit: It’s OK to Fire Employee for False Harassment Report,” please contact Michele Kraftschik at