Two weeks ago, I shared a situation wherein our department's beloved Conan the Confused had been accused by an individual in our building (but not in our department) of creating and perpetuating a hostile work environment. This baffled most of us because Conan has seemed so harmless in all the years we've known him.
After all of the interviews and meetings, Conan tells me that because he often tends to do a combination shuffle-mumble-ramble-cackle, in any conversation, this individual became convinced that Conan has been deliberately mocking this other individual's awkward gait. Not only this, but the individual claimed that Conan has deliberately been mumbling and rambling in hir presence to mock the fact that this individual is hard of hearing (none of us knew this; s/he has never told anyone that we can tell of being hard of hearing). [I have changed the actual conditions, but it's similar enough to what I've written here].
We have been 'forbidden' by HR to confront or even speak with this other person about Conan the Confused and OUR total confusion that anyone could be so insecure as to assume that someone else exhibiting 'different' behavior was automatically mocking them.
Conan has been instructed to attempt to avoid this person as much as possible (well, no, duh?!!). The other individual has been mandated to seek therapy and Conan has been recommended (by our chair, not HR) to at least pursue a diagnosis of any possible disabilities or conditions that may contribute to his overall confused state of being.
Thanks, all, for your advice. Conan now has a mediator as his legal representative, and we all have his back.