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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 7004
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I Dowloaded a bed from my work computer then forward it to

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I Dowloaded a bed from my work computer then forward it to my personal email during my lunch hour. My boyfriend is unemployed and was trying to sell the beds to make money for us. My work went through my emails and suspended and treated my like a conspirator. Because apparently the bed is a competition bed and they thought I was selling them to our customers. Which I wasn't. I forward the email to personal friends but through my own email. Is that considered defemation? While suspended I was not allowed to email anyone and not allowed to be on the premises. Is all this illegal? They made me feel terrible and put me through misery and stress. I was then called and said everything we ok and return back to work.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Good morning and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I am so sorry to hear about this unfortunate incident and completely understand your concerns.

As far as defamation is concerned, I'm afraid to say this would not qualify because in order for a statement to be defamation, it must be published (either in written or oral form) to a third party. Here, your employer may have made a false accusation, but they made it only to you. You are not a third party, and thus the criteria for a defamation claim are not satisfied. Certainly your employer held a false belief, and that is understandably frustrating, but you did not sustain damage as a result of your employer telling untrue statements about you to third parties, and that is what a defamation claim requires.

As far as the stress and misery this false accusation caused you, I am truly sorry to hear what you went through. Again, however, I mjst be honest and forthcoming with you by saying that no legal claim against your employer would arise from this incident. Employers retain a great deal of discretion to terminate or dicipline employees for any reason, and can even base such adverse employment action on untrue reasons--there is no inherent obligation to be "fair" in private sector employment, since employment is "at will."

Sometimes employers make mistakes, but the courts will not punish employers for acting on mistaken information, indeed because as noted above, employers don't need ttrue or correct information to take disciplinary action. Indeed, as I am sure you can understand, if an employee could sue their employer any time they suffered adverse employment action for something they didn't do, that would entirely erod the doctrine of at-will employment and the freedom employers have to manage their employees as they see fit.

Thus, it is with regret I must tell you that no legal cause of action would typically arise from the facts you have described. This is an extremely unfortunate situation and what you went through was unfair, but the law does not prescribe remedies for all unfortunate and/or unfair situations in the employment context.

I realize that the law is not favorable here and I am truly sorry for that. Please know that I am not providing this answer out of a lack of sympathy for your situation, but rather because you deserve an accurate understanding of the law and it would be unfair of me to give anything less.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes to you and thank you so much for coming to Just Answer.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7004
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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