Fired over something I never said?

by A
(USA)

I work in the service industry and had three bosses up until today. In addition to inappropriate suggestive comments/touches from one of the bosses, two of them have gotten intoxicated at least once and threatened to fire me.

The third boss came up to me on Saturday night and asked me if I was happy. "Why would you ask me that?" I said. He said that a customer said that I had posted an explicit comment on my facebook page saying that I was unhappy at work and not making any money. I made no such comment on my page.

I have only ever made one comment about work on that FB page and it was about being locked out of the bar after being on time for a shift. When I asked them to repeat the alleged comment that they think I made, they had no specifics.

The other owner showed up intoxicated again and he got into a heated conversation with me and the other employee about how to handle a customer situation, and said we had no idea what we were talking about. He spoke to me in a very disrespectful manner.

I turned to the other employer to acknowledge his comment about the state of my happiness. This is one the things I'm unhappy about. I waited for him to acknowledge that this wasn't the way to speak to someone.

The intoxicated owner began screaming at me. "How dare I look away while he is talking!", etc. The other owner even said to him, "maybe we should have this conversation when you're sober."

I was terminated today. I asked to speak to the other employer to explain myself. He said that the other employer would not speak to me. I even offered to give them access to my facebook page to prove I'd never said anything slanderous about the bar or even mentioned the name, other than to promote my shift.

He said one of the partners didn't like me and that this was a small bar and not a big corporation. I just want my job back and a comfortable work environment. Do I have any legal way to do this? I never said anything bad and yet I'm getting fired for it? This doesn't seem right. Thanks.

Visitor Question:
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ANSWER for "Fired over something I never said?":

A (USA) :

Unfortunately, unless you were employed pursuant to a written contract of employment, or your company has in place an appellate process, you have no immediate remedies to reclaim your job. One or more of the owners may have been rude and condescending, but that in and of itself is not sufficient legal grounds to reclaim your job.

While you don't specifically mention defamation by slander or libel, the implication is you are not happy with untrue statements purportedly made by one or more of your employers.

Slander is defined as a patently untrue statement, made verbally by a person to one or more third parties, which results in financial loss, loss of reputation, or other material loss.

Libel is defined as a patently untrue statement made in writing, either by email, text, Facebook, or in any other manner where the statement can be read. The same losses listed above must occur for a claim of libel to succeed.

If the defamatory statements are made just to the person with whom the statements are directed, defamation does not occur. For example, if one of the owners told you were being fired for having committed theft, and they did not make that statement to anyone other than you, then defamation did not technically occur.

Yet, if when the statement was made there was another employee who overheard the statement, then defamation would have occurred and you would be entitled to sue the owner for defamation "per se."

Defamation "per se" is defamation of such a serious nature the victim does not have to prove financial loss. Accusing someone of theft is accusing that person of a "crime of moral turpitude." Such a crime is so serious as to not require the victim to prove financial or material loss.

Fortunately for you, the owner's remarks, while inappropriate and patently untrue, did not rise to the level of defamation.

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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