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Tina
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 8183
Experience:  JD, BBA, recognized by ABA for excellence.
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Can I sue my employer a hostile environment and before and

Customer Question

Can I sue my employer for creating a hostile environment and for harassment before and after I left my job? I was employed at the same company for over 12 years. The Corporate office came down as usual to investigate employees on inventory and theft. Three weeks ago I was questioned and was told "word on the street is your the guy to go to for warranties", and so on. (assuming I wrongfully warrantee auto parts). In my opinion all I could think of is that they were fishing as always. I was asked to write my response on a piece of paper, but then the guy changed his mind and excused me and said I did not have to write a response. Last week Corporate Theft department came back and fired and arrested an employee. Again I was questioned but not in a private room or anything it was there in the open at work. I demonstrated frustration due to their constant harassment of falsely accusing me and I informed them that it was not right what they were doing. I informed them I needed time and left 35 minutes before my shift was over to cool down. I returned and I handed them the key. I then returned and I spoke to one of the Directors that were present. He informed me the other individual took it as I had abandoned my job. I explained that it was not ok for them to continue harassing me in such a way and if they were fishing for something that they could go about it in a professional and accurate way. I asked for evidence or proof of what they assumed to have on me. They responded with word on the street is your the guy to go to. I informed him that it was not the first time I was treated in such a way. He agreed. I informed them that I was not returning to work. (I had a previous review and received 100%, however I did not receive a raise due to being the highest paid employee and I have not accepted management responsibilities numerous times plus I do not work weekends due to another job) Everyone starts on minimum age and I was the only employee left out of a whole crew that was fired out of my past Supervisor's crew around a year ago.
My past supervisor who retired for Medical reasons just recently informed me that he was recently aware I was no longer employed. He ran into numerous customers and is concerned for me and my reputation and rights. He informed me customers are being told by my current Supervisor that I no longer work there because I am a Thief. I was not fired and I was not written up or had nothing to do with all that , besides getting questioned. I quit my job. I was given phone numbers of customers that are willing to testify. Can I sue for harassment? Can I sue for anything? due to the Supervisor falsely informing customers that I am a thief and that is why I no longer work there.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

Good morning. I am Loren, a licensed attorney, and I look forward to assisting you.

Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

Do you have a written employment agreement requiring cause for termination?

Do you believe you were treated differently than other employees due to your race, religion, ethnicity, etc.?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I do not have anything in writing and I was not asked to sign anything. I quit my job. I was informed that the Director took it as I abandoned my job. It is not the Director making those statements, he and I had a good conversation after and he said he understood my position. It is the current Supervisor making those statements to customers about me. Yes I believe I was treated differently, but it was due to my pay, perhaps age as in time there and experience. A whole crew was fired except myself about a year ago and I was continuously asked to take a higher position and more responsibilities due to my pay. I was the only employee left from that past crew and I was questioned for their inventory from their theft dept.
Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for the additional information. I am sorry to hear of your dilemma.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I can obtain a written statement but it may not be an agreement. I was not terminated. I was not asked to sign anything or I was not talked to about getting fired, I was constantly questioned and harassed and I made the choice to quit.
Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

You may have a claim for defamation for telling people you were a thief.

Actually, you would start with a cease and desist letter to anyone making these false accusations.

If this does not get a retraction, you will need to file suit for defamation. This cause of action is specifically for damage caused to one's reputation. To establish a prima facie case of defamation, four elements are generally required:

1. a false statement purporting to be fact concerning another person or entity;

2. publication or communication of that statement to a third person;

3. fault on the part of the person making the statement amounting to intent or at least negligence; and,

4. some harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.

This involves complex litigation and it is strongly advised that you retain local counsel to assist you in protecting your rights before taking any action in this matter.

If you need assistance in finding an attorney, contact your state or local bar association. You can also try Martindale Hubble. Many attorneys themselves use this site to locate attorneys outside their jurisdiction or expertise:

http://www.martindale.com/Find-Lawyers-and-Law-Firms.aspx

It is a huge worldwide database of attorneys searchable by location and specialty.

Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

Unfortunately, I do not see a claim for wrongful termination. Without a written employment contract requiring cause for termination, you are, in all likelihood, an at-will employee. As such, you serve at the whim of your employer. They can change your duties, compensation, schedule or even terminate for any reason or no reason at all.

The only exception is that any action taken against you may not be motivated by illegal discrimination (race, religion, disability, ethnicity, etc.) or sexual harassment.

If, upon further deliberation you think that may apply to your situation then you need to make a complaint to the EEOC as soon as possible.

Otherwise, without a claim, as described above, the courts view this as office politics and offer no judicial or administrative remedy. In other words, you would need to seek recourse within the HR department.

Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

Did you have further questions? Have I answered your question?

Expert:  Loren replied 9 months ago.

If you have no further questions, and have not yet done so, please remember to leave a favorable rating (Excellent or Good) so that I am credited for assisting you. A bonus is not required, but is always appreciated.