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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Assisting employees and employers for over 14 years.
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Someone wrote an anonymous letter to my employer accusing me

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Someone wrote an anonymous letter to my employer accusing me of doing some things that would violate professional ethics, though not the law. There have been previous rumors that I did these things, though I did not. This person apparently was convinced I did. Is there any way for me (1. to find out who wrote the letter and (2. to have an recourse against them if I do find out? Thank you. Sam
Welcome and thank you for your question!

I am sorry to learn of your experience. Please clarify: do you work in a school district?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I work for a state university.
Thank you. Unfortunately, that level of education does not fall within the personnel record rights created by Code of Alabama Title 16 Section 22-14 (which limits file accessibility to those employed by a "(6) SCHOOL BOARD or BOARD OF EDUCATION or BOARD. As applied to employees in the public schools, grade kindergarten through grade 12, any county or city board of education; the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind; the Alabama Youth Services Board in its capacity as the Board of Education for the Youth Services School District; the Board of Directors of the Alabama School of Fine Arts; the Board of Directors of the Alabama High School of Mathematics and Science; and, as applied to two-year postsecondary education institutions only, the State Board of Education.").

So, under state law, you are not entitled to demand/obtain a copy of your personnel file or that anonymous letter.

Let me ask you this. Does your employer have a written policy which affords you access to your personnel file?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I know there is nothing about any of this in any file. It's been a rumor, nothing more. I have talked to my superiors who assure me they are no concerned. My job is not in jeopardy. My question is if there is any way I can find out who wrote it and if there is any action I can take against them for what they wrote. Again, I am not concerned about losing my job nor that my employer puts any stock into an anonymous letter..
You cannot compel your employer to disclose the letter to you under state law or local policy. Your employer can give you the letter if it wants to but you cannot force it to. I hope that you can see the difference between those two points.

Some states provide employees such rights to compel disclosure. Alabama does not.

Now, if you do find out who wrote such a letter and what the letter says, can you take any action? Yes, the author could be sued for defamation/false light.

It has been my pleasure to assist you today with your information needs. It is my goal that you are satisfied. No expert can promise you an answer that is favorable to your circumstances. But I will do my very best to explain the legal principles that are related to the facts you’ve described so that you can better understand the “why” of things.

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JB Umphrey and 4 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
I think I did not make myself clear. I have the letter in my possesion. How, it at all, can I find out who went it? It is not signed.
Thank you for the clarification.

If you have any "suspects" go ahead and directly ask those individuals or, generically, ask folks if they know about the letter and if they know who sent it.

Many times people talk and they can't keep a secret. Sometimes a person does keep their lips sealed -- that's the exception, not the rule. Start asking around.

I hope this helps to clarify things.

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