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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37818
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I work for AT&T and i got a final written warning from them

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I work for AT&T and i got a final written warning from them on wednesday cause of something that someone had said that i never had said and it was a "overheard" thing which i never said. The union is involved. They had said that on 9/11 i had said " have you ever felt like killing your manager, she is trying to get me fired and i think she is a f**king bitch" I was wondering if i have a lawsuit for defamation of character to sue AT&T. Those words never came out of my mouth and the person who said i said it didnt want to come forward so I have no idea who it was and they wont tell me and the union doesn't know either. I feel like i am being harrassed also there.
The goal of this sort of inflammatory commentary is frequently to cause the employee under investigation to react in an overtly hostile manner, whereby the employer can use the employee's reaction as proof that the employee is a danger to others, even if he/she never committed the complained about act.

So, be careful about overreacting to the claims. It's usually better to laugh about these types of absurdities and treat them as frivolous/silly (e.g., "They said what? That's pretty funny. Listen, if you have nothing other than this nonsense to discuss, I really need to get back to work now!" -- and, then you get up and walk out of the meeting, before they can stop you -- which makes everyone but you look like a moron). It may be too late for you to do this, but it may be worth considering in the future.

Back to your original question, you can't sue the employer for defamation, because even though, legally, a republication of another person's defamatory statement is actionable, there are exceptions for employers in carrying out routine management duties. You would never get this sort of case to trial.

Now, if you can identify the complainant, you could sue them personally -- but, they may not be able to pay a defamation judgment, so you could spend a lot of time and money suing and then never collect anything. So, you need to carefully consider your target defendant to determine whether or not they have sufficiently "deep pockets" so as to be able to pay a judgment. This may not be easy to do, unless you know the coworker well enough to have a good idea about his/her financial circumstances.

Hope this helps.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.

So what do u suggest? Just letting my union handling it to see if they can over turn it when they dont have written proof or any witnesses and the manager who the complaint was about never heard it themselves?

There is no lawsuit that you can bring against the employer. If it were me, I would try to arrange a transfer so as to get as far away from your adversary as possible. This may not set well with you, because it effectively makes your opponent the winner, based on a lie. But, if the ultimate goal is to keep your job, then the practical reality is that you need to be in a new environment where you can't be set up for termination through a fraudulent complaint.

So, if your union can help you arrange a transfer, then that's what I would shoot for.

Hope this helps.
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