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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 90269
Experience:  JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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I am a registered nurse, charge nurse on the weekends 7p-7a

Customer Question

I am a registered nurse, charge nurse on the weekends 7p-7a shift. A couple of months ago, I stopped by Wal-Mart on my way to work and picked up pink lemonade to drink with my supper. I took it out of my bag and placed it down on a side table at the nurse's station and got busy. After sitting there for about 20 minutes, someone asked me who did it belong to, I immediately told them, "Oh, that's mine. I forgot to put it in the refrigerator". They asked me did I know what that was; I said, "Yeah, it's pink lemonade". I didn't realize that it had 5% alcohol in it. It's called, Mike's Hard Pink Lemonade which I had never heard of before. I was focused on the fact that it had a breast cancer symbol on it and I'm a breast cancer survivor. Well, everyone had a big laugh over it and I thought that was the end of it. Well, was I wrong! Someone reported me to the CEO for "drinking on the job", bypassing my immediate supervisor. Now, I've learned that on this past Sunday, there was an open discussion at the front nursing station about me supposedly, "sitting at the front desk at the computer drinking alcohol".
I know the people involved, I have witnesses who heard it and I've tried to meet with my immediate supervisor and Director of Human Resources today but after waiting for over an hour, I left. I would like everybody who had a hand in spreading this viscious lie about me to be called on the carpet for it. Do I have a case? Oh, by the way; I am a licensed minister whose presently going through a divorce. This kind of lie could potentially harm my ministry, damage my nursing career, and alter the outcome of my divorce. Please help!!!!!!
Cassandra Duncan, RN, BSN
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 3 years ago.
Thanks so much for choosing this forum to pose your important legal question. I will do my best to give you some honest and accurate guidance as I answer your question.

 

  1. I am a licensed attorney and registered nurse with employment law and civil litigation experience. I will be glad to try and answer your question. I hope that the following information will be helpful to you, but please just write back if you have any follow-up questions or need clarification after reviewing the following information.
  2. "Do I have a case?" Please allow me to say that I am genuinely sorry for your circumstances. I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX soon look brighter for you, especially being a fellow health care professional. Accordingly, it gives me no pleasure to be the bearer of some discouraging news. My primary aim is to be upfront and realistic rather than doing you the disservice of misleading you or sugarcoating things. Based on your description of what has taken place, there is no meritorious basis for filing suit. Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation cause of action. In other words, if an employee spread it around that you had brought alcohol into your workplace, that it technically the truth of what took place. Regrettably, it would not matter (in this context) that your conduct was completely unintentional. I know exactly what you mean about the labeling of some of these alcohol products. I am well beyond the age of generally being "carded" and do not even drink alcohol. However, a couple of times I have looked down in my shopping cart only to notice that I had inadvertently picked up an alcoholic product thinking it was some sort of punch of juice. Nevertheless, the botXXXXX XXXXXne is that I wish the law afforded more by way of protections, but truthfully a meaningful remedy is not supplied for one in your shoes. Certainly, your job could (and in my opinion absolutely should) put an immediate stop to the rumors and take disciplinary action against those involved with this petty and immature conduct. This would be an internal matter left to the discretion of your employer, however, as opposed to a Court issuing such Orders. You did the right thing by trying to connect with the Chief of Nursing and the Director of Human Resources. I would encourage you to continue those efforts and, not by any means wanting to cause alarm, but should you hear from the Alabama Board of Nursing, please confer with local legal counsel immediately given all that is at stake with your career and reputation.
  3. I hope that makes sense, but please do not hesitate to write back if needed. I shall be signing off soon to attend to some other professional obligations. Please rest assured, however, that I will be sure to check for any updated posts from you when I return to this online forum.

 

I hope that this information has been helpful to you. If we can be of any further assistance please free to use our service again. Best wishes for a successful outcome.

 

If my answer has been helpful to you, please click "ACCEPT" so that I may be paid. This is the only way that I will receive compensation for the work performed. Please consider clicking "BONUS" as a nice way of saying "thanks" for a job well done. Clicking "FEEDBACK" to leave your positive comments is always greatly appreciated.

 

The information provided is general in nature only and should not be construed as legal advice. By using this forum, you acknowledge that no attorney-client relationship has been created between you and Benjamin M. Burt, Jr., Esq. You should always consult with a lawyer in your state.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I cannot accept this answer at this time because; yes, I brought the beverage in but I never opened it. The rumor is that I sat at my computer and drank alcohol. How can this not have consequences if it is false?
Expert:  LawHelpNow replied 3 years ago.

Hello again,

 

Thanks for writing back -- good to hear from you. Unfortunately, all I can do is to accurately report the state of the currently existing law, which I have done. I cannot change the law.

 

I have opted out (without charge). My attorney colleagues are able to view your question, and a fellow legal expert can provide an answer if they choose to do so.

 

I would like to wish you all the best and truly hope you see this matter resolved.

 

Take care and thanks again for choosing JustAnswer®!


[Please do not reply to this post as doing so will delay handling of your inquiry.]

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 3 years ago.
Your previous expert has opted out, but was correct. Under the law, the only possible action here would be defamation. The elements required to prove defamation would be making a known false statement to third parties or making one with reckless disregard for the truth AND you have to prove that you suffered some actual financial harm as a direct result of the statement. The courts hold that if you prove direct financial harm as a direct result then you can add in damages for reputation damage. However, the courts state that if you cannot prove financial harm, then reputation damages are not recoverable and do not satisfy the second element of a defamation case.

Thus, you did have alcohol at work, even though you did not drink it, and a false statement was likely made since nobody saw you drink it and it was unopened. However, on the second element, unless you are fired or suffer direct financial loss for the statement, you have no grounds for an civil action. If you do suffer actual financial loss, then you can sue the person who made the statement for defamation.


I hope you found my answer helpful, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button above for my answer. This is necessary for me to be paid for my work and so that I can get credit for assisting you. Your question will not close, and you will still have the opportunity to follow-up if needed. Leaving a bonus and positive feedback is not required, but doing so is certainly appreciated!

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Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 90269
Experience: JA Mentor -Attorney Labor/employment, corporate, sports law, admiralty/maritime and civil rights law
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