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My daughter was accused of having marijuana in her purse at…

Customer Question
My daughter was accused...

My daughter was accused of having marijuana in her purse at work - and the smell coming from her purse when in actuality, there was no marijuana in her purse. Someone went to her purse and supposedly "smelled". There was NOTHING illegal in her purse. Plus the continuation of false statements against her have become horrible. She has requested a copy of her personnel file, plus WHO made the accusations and they are refusing. What can be done? Thank you

Lawyer's Assistant: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

Virginia

Lawyer's Assistant: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?

Part Time - BUT they have her working full time hours

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

She's innocent of the marijuana accusations. And now they are refusing to tell her WHO her accusers are and will not give her a copy of her personnel file.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Employment Law
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3/7/2018
Employment Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer replied 3 months ago
ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 18,161
Experience: Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
Verified

Thank you for using JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Aside from filing a defamation case, not much could be done. The first thing that you need to know is that Virginia is an "at will" employment state. At-will employment means that without a contract, you have no contractual or other right to employment with the company. The company is entitled to fire you for any reason: a good reason, a poor reason, or no reason at all--as long as the company does not fire you for an illegal reason (race, gender, age, religion, etc...). But it extends beyond firing, to hiring, promotions, demotions, wage cuts and raises, disciplinary actions, and even scheduling. Unless you can show that this was done in violation of a contract, union agreement, or a clear violation of an unambiguous and binding clause against the employer, or that it was done because of some minority status (age, race, gender, religion, disability) that you have, then they do have this discretion.

Legally this type of case would be "defamation", meaning that it's a false statement of material fact, communicated to a third party, that causes quantifiable economic damages or is of such a nature that the allegations refer to criminal misconduct, sexual misconduct, or that the plaintiff has a sexual disease (this is called defamation per se).

Note that the statement has to be false. If it's true, this is not legally "defamation", even if it is harmful to someone's reputation. It has to be false to be defamation.

But it also has to be a "statement of material fact". That means that opinions are not actionable. Opinions (even if everyone else on the planet would say otherwise) would not be actionable. It would have to be a statement of fact (objectively verifiable, rather than something that is in one's opinion).

Further, it has to cause "quantifiable damages". The main issue here is that many lies and insults that would otherwise be actionable cannot show how the individual was harmed, to a reasonable degree of probability. So the courts require that you prove the actual dollar amount that she was harmed as a result of this. And that's often where these cases fail. Typically the only successful cases are where people lose jobs (lost wages could be proven) or do not get advancements in their jobs, etc...

The only way that she could get a copy of her personnel file or find out who made the complaint would be through the discovery process in litigation, and again, that would require that she be able to show actual economic damages as a result of the defamatory statement. Otherwise, she doesn't have a right to either her personnel file or the identity of the accuser.

I know this is probably not what you wanted to hear, but it is the law. I hope that clears things up anyway. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.

Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). You may need to scroll left/right/up/down to see these stars, but note that the rating is what closes out this question, so it is necessary that you do so.

Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

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Employment Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer replied 3 months ago

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

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Employment Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer replied 3 months ago

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating... (please note that rating closes this question out, so if there's nothing else, please rate it so that I can assist other customers that are waiting for answers to their questions).

If you can't see the stars, you may need to scroll up / down / left / or right to see them. This is where you rate so that the question will close out.

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Employment Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer replied 3 months ago

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

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Employment Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer replied 3 months ago

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable.

Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (3 or more stars). Look for the stars on your screen (★★★★★). You may need to scroll left/right/up/down to see these stars, but note that the rating is what closes out this question, so it is necessary that you do so.

If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service positively. It's only after you rate that I am credited.

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Employment Lawyer: ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer replied 3 months ago

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