Fired after being harassed?

by J
(New Hampshire)

After obtaining a job at a hospital/ECU, I quickly learned that I was not welcome by one employee. I was warned by others in the department about her. I was told the last 2 people quit because of her behavior.

Her harassment went on for months and I reported it to my superiors numerous times to no avail. They were "working on it," I was told repeatedly. I finally began to collect evidence of this. Photographs,and documents that she was altering to make it look like I was not doing my job.

I reported this to Human Resources and it seemed like it was taken seriously. I made a comment that I was concerned because the department head and my harasser were friends outside of work and that I knew this was a pattern and there was history to this behavior in the department.

I was approached by my director and questioned about that. The next day people were telling me that the director was asking around if I had been making fun of my harasser for being deaf. ADA Compliance get out of harassment/bad behavior card. I had not at all and she could not prove it.

Before I go on I was also state that my harasser's mother also worked in the department and they were lifetime friends with the director.

After I reported all of this it got worse in the department. My schedule got screwy and the harassment got worse. The director was not going to help and neither was human resources. I saw that a job opened up and I put in for a work transfer request. The same day I put in the request I was accused of allegedly making a drug deal in the parking lot.

The accusation came weeks after, and I was called to human resources and questioned. I was told that I had nothing to do with it and that they were concerned with another employee and that she was a drug dealer. I had no information for them other than this employee was great at work and a single mother who worked hard, and that there are a lot of people that like to start rumors in the department.

I asked them to please search me, my car and issue a drug test immediately to clear up any type of suspicions they may have and they said it was not necessary. I also asked them to provide a video of this as we have cameras in the parking lot. None of this was pursued.

During the investigation a "friend" who also has a mother who works in the department and is friends with the director was pressuring me to throw the accused dealer under the bus and I would be all set and wouldn't get in trouble. He told me she had tried to get him fired and they all wanted her gone.

I think he thought I would screw her over because we were friends. When I didn't comply I started getting strange texts. He texted me and told me to just tell the truth etc. I told him I was not going to go to Human Resources and admit to buying drugs from this person. It was a leading text.

The next day I went to work and was called to human resources. They said I was being fired because I had submitted a text to a coworker stating I was not going to admit to buying drugs in the parking lot. I again asked them to give me a drug test/search to prove my innocence and was denied.

I received a call later that day from the "friend" and was told to keep my mouth shut or he would contact my girlfriend's ex-husband and cause problems for us (he is an abuser who creates constant conflict in our lives.)

I called Human resources and reported that I was being threatened by an employee and they said there was nothing they could do about it.

I have been in contact with the last employee that held my position, and his story is identical to mine. A year of harassment and then an accusation of being high at work, a drug test that turned up clean and a search that revealed nothing. He subsequently quit. The girl before him also was harassed and quit.

I filed a formal grievance and have tried for weeks to get in touch with the Risk management compliance officer and she has ignored me. I now have contacted a lawyer. Can that text hold up, did they do a proper investigation, is there anything that can be done to at least get me a job back in another department and to wipe my termination statement clean?

I had a stellar reputation at this facility with all my co-workers and residents/patients who nominated me on more than one occasion for the extra mile award. I have numerous people who will speak on my professionalism, attitude and work ethic. I am known at the facility as the "guy who runs to work" as I run between 10-20 miles a day in training for ultra marathons.

I was always early and always completed work in a timely, professional manner. I followed hospital procedure to a T, and my 90 day review can verify this. Now I am being labeled as a drug addict/dealer? Its not right. This is libel/slander. What else can I do?

I have a business in the area with my girlfriend and she has minor children that can all be affected by this termination. Can I file a lawsuit? What can I do? Thank you.

Visitor Question:
Disclaimer: Information provided in our response is NOT formal legal advice. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Under no circumstances should the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site be relied upon when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Our response does NOT create an attorney-client relationship. Always get a formal case review from a licensed attorney in your area.

ANSWER for "Fired after being harassed?":

J (New Hampshire):

Unfortunately, the State of New Hampshire follows the "at-will" doctrine of employment. This means your employment can be terminated for just about any reason. But there are exceptions. Employment termination is wrongful if...

- the employer terminated the employee in violation of a written contract of employment

- the employee was fired based on discrimination, including age, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual preference

- the employee was fired in retaliation for failing to carry out an illegal order

- the employee was fired in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim

From the facts you present, there doesn't seem to be evidence of any of the above exceptions.

For more information on New Hampshire Employment at-will employment go here.

If you have evidence an employee of the company spoke or wrote to one or more third parties stating you were selling drugs, and the allegations were completely untrue, then you will likely have the basis of a slander lawsuit.

Slander separate from libel. Both can constitute defamation. In most cases, defamation by the spoken word is slander. Defamation by a written or electronic publication such as an e-mail, blog, web site, is libel. If you have evidence of defamation, seek the advice and counsel of an attorney. Most won't charge for an initial office consultation.

New Hampshire Revised Statute Section 644:11 states, "A person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if he purposely communicates to any person, orally or in writing, any information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt or ridicule."

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from an attorney licensed in your state. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call (888) 647-2490.

Best of luck,

Judge Calisi

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