Can I fire an employee for libel?

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Can I fire an employee for libel?

My employee is telling other employees that I gave her ringworm and that she missed a week of work because of it. I don’t have, and never have had, ringworm. Upon hearing her accusations, I immediately went to my doctor who examined me and wrote a note on a prescription pad that explained that I didn’t have ringworm nor did I show any evidence of ever having it. This week, 3 weeks after the incident, I hired 3 new employees. As soon as

they started working with the employee in question, she began telling them I gave her ringworm and that she missed a week of work because of it. My trust in this employee has eroded to the point of no return. I feel she is a detriment to my growing company. Can I fire her without being sued and without her being able to collect unemployment which would make my premiums go higher?

Asked on July 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Does this employee have protection against termination under these type of circumstances  under the terms of an employment contract or union/collective bargaining agreement? Would firing her constitute some form of legally actionable discrimination? If not then she is an "at will" employee. Accordingly, you can fire her for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.


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