What is legally acceptable behavior regarding criticism by an employer?

A team member went to another supervisor to spread false information about me. This caused tension between us until I cleared up the misunderstanding. The employee has done this on more than one occasion. When I asked the supervisor to call the employee in to address the behavior, they not only refused to provide a name but to resolve the issue at all. I ultimately approached our manager on the subject. The manager claimed there was more than one individual who did not want me to succeed. Refusing to address the situation, the manager proceeded to criticize me, citing I was not very leader like and cared too much about employee morale.

Asked on June 18, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You presumably do not have an employment contract--very few of us do. If so, you are an "employee at will"; that means your employer may criticize you, undermine you, discipline you, even fire you, at any time, for any reason--even incorrect or unfair ones. You have no recourse against the employer for the behavior you describe.

IF you do become aware of which co-worker is lying about you, you may be able to sue that co-worker for defamation, which is making false factual assertions about you, which damage your reputation, to other people (e.g. the supervisor); you'd have to be be able to prove the assertions or statements about you are false. But unfortunately, as stated, that's only against the co-worker making the false statements; as an employee at will, you have almost no employment rights against your employer.

(If you do have an employment contract, review it; you can enforce whatever it says about disciplin and the like.)


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