Can I sue my former employer for defamation of character if I was falsely accused of theft?

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Can I sue my former employer for defamation of character if I was falsely accused of theft?

My fiance was accused of stealing money from his employer. He asked for a copy of the videos in question that supposedly showed proof of him doing this. We have viewed them backwards and forwards and have found no such evidence. So we requested a pre-ttermination hearing which will allow us to present our case to the county manager. But we have recently found out that they are claiming he admitted to the theft, which he did not admit to it. What can we do legally?

Asked on June 19, 2011 under Personal Injury, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

First, as to termination: if the rules of your workplace provide--and without relevant exception, and not subjec to a manager's discretion--that you are entitled to hearing or certain processes or procedures before termination, then you have to get them. But if the rules of your workplace do not, in unequivocal terms, provide for such protections, your boyfriend can be fired at will. So unless your boyfriend as either an employment contract (including a union agreement) or very firm rules otherwise, he can be terminated no matter what the evidece.

Second, if a factual allegation of theft is being made against you boyfriend to any third parties (e.g. by a manager at work to other employeees or coworkers), and that factual allegation is false and damages his reputation, he may have a claim for defamation; this might entitle him to monetar compensation, but would not prevent his termination. If your boyfriend feels this is case--negative untrue factual claims or allegations being made against him--he should consult with a personal injury attorney.


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