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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20363
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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Marsha I just got out of a meeting where a fellow worker

Customer Question

Hi Marsha
I just got out of a meeting where a fellow worker accused me of being degrading demeaning in front of the owner and an equal in my position. After the meeting and the employee left for lunch it was discussed that they were going for workplace harassment. ( not sexual ). What would be a start of filing a lawsuit to protect my character from these false accusations.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello,
Thank you for the information and your question. Although defamation of character is actionable, assuming that there is actual damage to someone's reputation, the biggest issue is that the statement must be a false statement of fact that the person making the statement knows, or should know, to be false. Someone making a statement about how they feel about how you communicate or deal with them is not generally something that a court would say satisfies the legal threshold. In other words, an honestly held opinion or feeling is not defamatory.
If, on the other hand, someone says they yelled obscenities at me or called me stupid, and that wasn't true, then that would be defamatory. If this person did make a false statement of fact, then you should sit down with a local personal injury attorney who takes non-physical injury torts and speak to them about whether they think you would have any success with the local courts. Keep in mind that your reputation must be actually damaged as well.
All that said, it won't make any difference in terms of what your employer can do in this situation if you are an "at will" employee. In other words, as an "at will" employee (again assuming you are), the employer can discipline, including termination, for any, or no, reason and with no notice or warning, unless a contract or company policy states otherwise, even if the reason is misguided or unfair.
What you described, unless allegedly motivated by discriminatory intent because the other employee is a member of a protected class, would not give that employee any cause of action against the employer if they choose to do nothing as general workplace harassment absent discrimination is not legally actionable.
Please feel free to ask for clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 2 years ago.
Hello again,
I wanted to touch base with you and make sure that you did not have any follow up questions for me from the legal answer I provided to you on the 7th. For some unknown reason, the Experts are not always getting replies or ratings (in the pop up box, which is how we get credit (paid) for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I received neither. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the Site administrator.
In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed. You can bookmark my page at: http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-marsha411jd/
Thank you.