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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27889
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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An employee who was behind in her work deadlines is accusing

Customer Question

An employee who was behind in her work deadlines
is accusing me of intimidation & harassment after
I met with her to inquire about how she fell behind?
I wanted to find a solution so this would not occur again.
I offered Her help, & told her I wouldn't evaluate her this year,
But that we would establish protocols with
Our district office to establish uniformity in our
Employee work load & accountability.
She turned it around & filed a complaint against
Me citing intimidation & harassment.
What can I do to prove I didn't harass her
& how do I take this off my record?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 2 years ago.
Good morning,

I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.

The situation that you describe is more common than one might think. Many employees are prone to exaggeration and outright lies if they feel that their livelihood is at risk based upon comments made by a supervisor.

You don't say where she filed this complaint, and I will presume that it was an internal complaint---because based on your statement of facts, there would be no legal basis for a discrimination claim to have been filed with either the CA DFEH or the federal EEOC boards.

If the complaint was made to your employer, there is little of an affirmative nature that you can do. It is not possible to prove a negative---to prove that you did not say something that she took as harassment. Employers do realize this, they realize that supervisors become targets of unhappy employees---and generally there is no way to remove the report if the employer will not willingly do so. Certainly no law in the state of California exists which would allow you to force the employer to remove the complaint. However, the vast majority of employers will allow you, as the accused, to place a written statement in the file explaining your side of the story.

I do believe that you are absolutely taking the proper steps to remedy this situation with your employer by writing up your version of the facts and meeting with HR in an attempt to resolve these issues.

One legal remedy you may have, is if the employee has told specific factual lies about you to others---if they have spread false factual accusations---as opposed to just a negative opinion---then you may have legal recourse directly against the employee, by way of a suit for Defamation.

From a legal standpoint, defamation is the issuance of a false statement about another person, which causes that person to suffer harm.

1. Slander typically involves an oral (spoken) representation.
2. Libel involves the making of defamatory statements in a printed or fixed medium, such as the internet, a magazine or newspaper.

In order to win a defamation case, you must prove the following:

  1. A false statement was made about an individual, generally yourself;
  2. The statement was made to a third party;
  3. If the defamatory matter is of public concern, (for example if you are a famous person) fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher.
  4. Finally, you must show that you have suffered damages.

In the non-business setting, where is it not your actual business which has been defamed---but you personally, most cases involving defamation can be appropriately handled in your local small claims court. Filing your lawsuit is easy, and your case will typically be heard in 30 to 60 days. In CA you may even sue for up to $10,000.00---and you will not need an attorney to help you with your case.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

Kindly take a moment to rate my service to you highly, based on the understanding of the law I provided. Please understand that I have no control over the how the law impacts your particular situation, and I trust you agree that it would be unfair for me to be punished by a (negative rating) ----the first 2 stars/faces----for having been honest with you about the law.

I wish you the best in 2012,

Doug

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