What can I do about a wrongful termination and defamation of character issue with a former employer?

I worked for an employer for over a
year and was terminated, but only after
the owner told my manager I had quit
and moved out of town. I applied for
unemployment while in-between jobs and
now he is claiming that I damaged
property and stole lottory tickets,
which he has yet to provide proof of or
file any charges over. He is ruining
my good reputation that I have and I
would like to know my rights on filing
a suit.

Asked on May 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you had a written employment contract which was violated by how you were terminated, this would not be wrongful termination: without a contract, you are an "employee at will" and may be terminated at any time, for any reason whatsoever, even factually incorrect or unfair ones. You would have no legal claim for your termination.
If, as you indicate, the employer is making false negative factual claims about you (claiming you damaged or stole things which you did not) and those claims are damaging your reputation, then you are correct: this may be defamation. (While negative opinions, no matter how hurtful, are not defamation--e.g. "John Doe was the worst employee ever"--negative false facts are.) If so, you may be entitled to compensation for it--to explore this option, consult with a personal injury attorney (the same type of lawyers who handle car accident cases and slip-and-fall cases also handle defamation).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.