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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Can a coworker distort an event to make you sound like

Customer Question

Can a coworker distort an event to make you sound like something was done in malice but was none in mutual jest? I was reported for harassment of a co worker when I gently smacked her on cheek when we were kidding around at work. she got embarrassed and told my boss I splapped her. I have been suspended. I am a 56 year old female and the accussor is in her 20's. Not sure what her motivation is but my reputation is in jeopardy and I am a highly repected person who has never had this happen. Please advise
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

I am very sorry you are in this situation. As for the legality of what has transpired, false statements of fact can give rise to a claim for defamation. The problem here is that the statement is not actually false -- you did physically touch someone on the cheek -- the statement simply mischaracterizes your intent. It is not defamation to state one's observation about someone else's intent, as such a statement is pure opinion and thus not a "statement of fact." So from a legal standpoint I don't really see anything that you can do. All you can do is cooperate with your employer's investigation and write a letter explaining your side of events and that nothing malicious was intended by your actions. Although you may not feel that you need to, you may also wish to consider an apologize if your actions were misconstrued.

I know this is not exactly what you want to hear, but it is the legal reality of your situation. All I can do is relate that to you and trust that you will appreciate an honest and direct answer to your question.

I hope that you find this information helpful. 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 moving forward.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thank you so much for your advice. I will definitely apologize to my coworker and do whatever it takes to rectify the situation. This is extremely embarrassing for me and has tarnished my good reputation. Whatever her motivation was in portraying this incident with a negative twist is hard to understand. Perhaps for attention? I'm not sure I can continue to work there with this mark on my record. I don't think she realizes what she has done.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

If you can point out to your superiors any particular ulterior motivation you believe may have existed, that may help them understand things more from your perspective. But ultimately, I think the best approach is to apologize and attempt to make amends. I truly wish there were legal options here, but there simply are not.

Again, please feel free to let me know if you have any further concerns. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Very best wishes.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Was there anything else?

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