What are my rights if I was falsely accused of being drunk at work and was fired for it without having a breathalyzer issued?

Can I sue the company and the person who said I was drunk for defaming me? Also, how much could I sue for what are my rights?

Asked on October 28, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Unless you had a written employment contract which was violated, you have no grounds to sue the company: without a contract, you were an "employee at will" and could be fired at any time for any reason, without any obligation or requirement for proof, such as for an unproven allegation of being drunk at work. It was legal for your employer to fire you.
IF the other person lied about you being drunk, then you may be able to successfully sue him/her for defamation, but if you had been drinking, or if based on your behavior or demeanor, a reasonable person would have though you had been drinking, they would not be liable (since they stated the truth based on what they reasonably perceived). If they did lie, however, you might be able to recover an amount equal to several months of pay, since they evidently cost you your job.


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