If I’m being punished at work for having a conflict with an employee that I live with and the conflict had nothing to do with work, is this legal?

My roommate (who I also work with) and I got into a dispute at my house due to the fact she didn’t pick up her dogs droppings. My boyfriend and I had asked her the day before to pick it up so that our friends wouldn’t step in it at our BBQ. The police were called and statements were taken. However, now she has come to work saying that I fought her because a work related issue and she is also accusing me of stealing from work too. Both of these statement are false. What steps should be taken next?

Asked on July 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) If you do not have an employment contract, you are an employee at will, and may be disciplined (up to and including termination) for any reason, at any time--including for a non-work-related coonflict with another employee. Employers also do not have to verify the truth of any reasons or grounds for taking action.

2) If the co-worker/roommate knowingly or intentionally made untrue factual statements about you which damage your reputation--such as claiming that you stole, when you did not--then you may be able to sue her for defamation. Only untrue negative facts are potentially defamation: true facts or opinions, no matter how negative, do not give rise to a cause of action. If you think you may have been defamed, consult with a personal injury attorney to explore your options.


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