What are my rights if I was fired becuse a large woman at the restaurant I work at filed a written complaint stating that I had said ,”You can’t fit in a booth”.

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What are my rights if I was fired becuse a large woman at the restaurant I work at filed a written complaint stating that I had said ,”You can’t fit in a booth”.

My exact words at the time had been, “Would you prefer a table?” My manager fired me anyway. My co-workers have stated it is unusual for someone to be fired based on “an offhand comment” And in fact, this woman had mentioned a server as discriminating against her due to her weight, but the server wasn’t fired; Just me. Is scapegoating legal? In addition, since her complaint was false and led to me losing my job, do I have case for libel and defamation of character?Finally, I have asked for a formal letter of termination and have tried to document correspondence, with no response.

Asked on October 24, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) Scapegoating is not illegal: employers constantly fire one employee when someone else made an error or did something wrong. Think about the big banks in 2008: how many CEOs and CFOs, who actually set disasterous policies, were fired, as opposed to how many mid-level managers who had no real power or authority and were not at fault?

2) If you did not have an employment contract, you were an employee at will, and could be fired at any time, for any reason.

3) Your employer is under no legal obligation to give you a termination letter or other documentation.

4) If the woman made a false statement of fact about you which damaged your reputation, as you seem to indicate, you could potentially sue her (the woman; not your employer) for making it; this would be a defamation lawsuit, and if you wish to explore this option, consult with a personal injury attorney.


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