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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 32350
Experience:  Employment Law Expert
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I was accused of looking at an employees screen when they

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I was accused of looking at an employee's screen when they had their personal credit card information up. The hr person then went and asked other employees if they had seen me do the same thing. Is this slander?

Dwayne B. :

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification.

Dwayne B. :

No, slander is when someone makes an untrue statement of fact about you when they knew, or reasonably should have known, it was not true.

Dwayne B. :

Asking questions during an investigation would not be slander since it is not making a statement of fact.

Customer:

I was not looking at the person's screen to access anything. This was not the only allegation that was falsely made about me

Dwayne B. :

Why did you issue a Bad Service rating? I answered your question promptly and correctly. You asked if the HR person was doing was slander and I answered No, which is correct.You then added other information and gave a Bad Service rating.

Customer:

I didn't hear from you on my second question. And you were offline. I wanted to discuss it further.

Dwayne B. :

I was assisting other customers. When you weren't in chat when I answered I left to assist others and then came back as soon as I finished with them.

Customer:

I misunderstood and thought you had left the chat.

Dwayne B. :

What additional questions did you have? I don't mind assisting you and if you issue a Positive Rating later it will erase the negative one.

Customer:

Are you available to speak to via phone? It's would be easier for me. I will change my rating.

Dwayne B. :

No, unfortunately we can only have contact through this forum.

Dwayne B. :

I understand they are testing a phone system but that will probably not be available in the legal category due to State Bar issues.

Customer:

ok, so I have only been in this position for two months. It was never brought to my attention. Instead, the hr rep who received the complaint went and solicited input from other employees asking if they have ever seen me trying to access information on screens, looking through desks...

Dwayne B. :

Were they doing this in the course of some type of investigation?

Dwayne B. :

As opposed to just being nosy?

Customer:

Just being nosy. When it was brought to my attention by the hr person, she said that she was just cautioning me about my behavior because she wants me to be successful. I explained that I had not done what she had said. and then she replied - I don't think that "they" are lying. To add to this, the person who said I was trying to look at her credit card had shared with the group that someone had stolen her credit card and charged 1500 on it for tickets.

Dwayne B. :

The key here on whether anyone committed slander is whether they were 1) asking questions or 2) lying about something you had done AND they knew they were lying.

Dwayne B. :

Asking questions cannot, by definition, be slander unless they weren't really asking questions but just pretending to so they could relay incorrect information about you.

Customer:

did the hr person have the right to ask other employees about specific behavior (such as trying to read screens)? I think that gave others the perception that I had been trying to get access to people's information

Dwayne B. :

I think it is a close call. Since they were in HR then they could likely justify it as being within the course and scope of their job and department.

Dwayne B. :

The other issue you have is that there are no easily determinable damages so even if it was slander it isn't slander that is actionable.

Customer:

got it. It certainly has made it difficult for me to work there now that team. Oh well, thank you for your help.

Dwayne B. :

One suggestion you may want to consider...

Dwayne B. :

You could go to a local lawyer and have them write a "cease and desist" letter to the person/people doing this.

Dwayne B. :

It could end up causing problems for you at work but it would likely put a stop to this.

Customer:

I am considering leaving because it is within my first 90 days. I can't imagine that I can overcome this. it is a very small office and the team has been against me from the start. This just gave them more fuel for the fire!

Dwayne B. :

That is probably an astute observation.

Dwayne B. :

If you do leave then a cease and desist letter along with a warning not to give a bad reference would be a wise move.

Customer:

I have an employment contract that references a 90 day introductory period which give them time to evaluate me, and me to evaluate them. my thought is to resign and reference that part of the contract and not give any other reason. do you agree?

Dwayne B. :

I think that's a valid avenue to pursue.

Dwayne B. :

Hopefully they'll just let it die.

Customer:

What do you mean by "they will just let it die?

Dwayne B. :

In other words they won't reference this incident if any future employers call.

Customer:

oh got it. would I have to even put this on my resume?

Dwayne B. :

That's a matter of personal choice. Nothing in the law says you have to.

Customer:

Healthcare is such a small world that I am sure it will get around anyway. Thank you very much for your help

Dwayne B. :

You're very welcome. I'll go ahead and exit now to assist others. I'd ask you to change your rating to a Positive one and wish you the best in this.

Dwayne B. and 4 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you very much for the Positive Rating. Please come back and visit us if you have any new questions and feel free to ask for me by placing “FOR DWAYNE B” in the subject line or as the first words of your question and I will pick up as soon as I see it.