Everyone’s innocent ’til proven guilty

Everyone’s innocent ’til proven guilty

People react to Administrative hearings in weird ways.

Some clients actually look forward to administrative hearings. They take it as an opportunity to vent. “Finally, Attorney, makakabawi din ako sa wakas (Finally, I can get even!)”

Days before the hearing, they already visualize how they will browbeat their accused employee into submission.

Then there are others who are terrified of the hearing. They are so scared of their employees getting into a shouting match with them. While I commiserate with them, I hope they realize that this stance is hardly productive.

I’d like to propose a third way of looking at Administrative Hearings.

Why not use the hearing as a chance to show your employees what kind of leader they have?

Our criminal laws say that each person is entitled to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. And, even when proven guilty, people have inherent human rights that don’t go away just because they are guilty.

Same principle can be applied to handling disciplinary cases. While you are in the process of investigating, try to be professional and give them the benefit of the doubt.

Be sure to treat your employees with dignity and respect. Don’t shout at them, call them names, or belittle them especially in front of others.


Take the opportunity to show what kind of leader they have.

I know it is hard to do this in the face of an employee who lies or is aggressive,

This may be harder than it sounds. I know you may be feeling angry at your employee at this point. You may be feeling victimized, but there is a higher goal here.

By treating the person accused with respect and dignity, you solidify your position as a leader who values fairness and respect. You show you are objective in the face of violations. You show that you are handling things based on objective standards, and you don’t take things personally.

More than that, you give your employees a template or a peg to imitate. You are showing them how to treat each other in your workplace.

Keep this in mind the next time you handle disciplinary proceedings. A little dignity and respect shown to people in these stressful situations will speak volumes about who you are as a leader.

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