Is this considered slander, libel or defamation of character?
I received a termination letter accusing me of being in violation of a work rule "Class B", making me ineligible for rehire. The work rule violation was "no call, no show" for 2 of my scheduled shifts.
I disputed this termination for I never once in 16 years of nursing not showed up for my scheduled shift. I was the house RN supervisor on the weekends. I was hired only to work weekends and that was expressed to the company way before I was hired.
The scheduled shifts they are speaking and writing about are leadership classes held not during my scheduled shift but in the middle of the week. But I was hired for weekends only!
I did in fact call off for the 1st leadership class that was held in the middle of the week because of child care issues. I called off the day prior at 5pm and was unable to tell anyone other than the secretary, who stated she would relay the message. Unlike the employee handbook states, they had no voicemail to leave messages.
The 2nd class for which they are saying I didn't show up for my scheduled shift was a paperwork error. I signed a paper that I was to attend a class. I signed it during my working hours, on March 15 in front of a witness and the class was held on March 15. How could I be at work and attend a class that was not at the facility were I was currently on duty?
I disputed the termination and received a fact-finding letter stating the dates of March 15 and February 16 were excluded (these 2 dates are considered the "no call, no show" or work rule violation). However the fact-finding letter never stated that I was not in violation of the work rule. So would this be considered liable?
First off the the investigator was the division HR person, not the person who wrote the 1st letter of termination, so clearly a third party viewed this false allegation, and no one ever made the connection of the dates to put in my file. If they had checked they'd have seen that I did not violate a work rule.
This work termination has caused serious damage to my professional reputation. I have been on 4 interviews with the proper qualifications and have not received a job offer, my 1st reference states great things about my work and then I would not even get a rejection letter. Nurses are in demand and I believe that they are giving me a bad reference.
The person who wrote the 1st letter of termination did not properly find out the truth or investigate the happenings. This is a disregard for me and ruined any chance in the near future of getting a position with any company. My self esteem is low and I am afraid to even submit my resume for what they could be saying is not the truth.
What is this considered legally and what can I do about it? Is this defamation of character under liable and/or slander? Thank you for any perspective you can give on this situation.
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 "Is this considered slander, libel or defamation of character?":
The legal basis of any libel, slander or defamation of character claim is truth. Here's and example...
Let's say a person was terminated from her job because she was accused of stealing. When she went to apply for a new job the prospective employer contacted the first employer and asked why the person was terminated.
If the original employer stated verbally or put in writing the reason for termination was theft and the accusation was true, then the employee has no claim for libel, slander, or defamation. Under the law "Truth is an absolute defense to libel, slander or defamation".
If the reference states you missed certain shifts and it's true, then you have no claim.
The second manner of dealing with the problem is a review of the Employee Handbook. If in the eyes of your employer you violated the rules set out in the handbook, you should find out if there is an Appeals Process. Before considering any independent legal action you must exhaust any administrative remedies your company provides.
If you have already gone through the appeals process and remain terminated you can then consider legal action. You must know if you do your entire employee record will be subject to review and examination.
The difficulty lies in your not being able to see what your employer is saying about you. Unless your employee handbook gives you the right to review any references, good or band, made on your behalf, the only other way of gaining access to those records will be through "Discovery" in a lawsuit.
If you are convinced your original employer is giving false information to prospective employers and you are convinced that's the reason you can't get work, you may have the basis of a lawsuit. Denying you your right to make a living by offering false statements about you can subject the original employer to a substantial penalty if the claim goes to court.
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,
P.S. Please help us out by sharing this site...