Defamation-Libel

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Defamation-Libel

A fellow employee filed a false HR complaint against me that resulted in my company offering me forced resignation which I refused or termination. I was not given the opportunity to see the complaint or any of the background. The incident allegedly took place 16 days prior to my dismissal. I’ve been informed that since I was an at-will employee, my company could do this as long as my

Asked on January 27, 2017 under Personal Injury, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The employer is correct: due to employment at will, the employer may legally terminate employees at any time, for any reason, even unproven--or even incorrect--allegations.
But you may be able to sue the employee who made the false report for defamation. Defamation is the making of a false statement of fact to other people, which damages your reputation and/or causes you economic harm. Making the report to HR or management would be making it to other people. Making you look bad and causing you to be terminated would be damaging your reputation and causing you economic harm. 
Therefore, the key to whether you have a viable defamation case is whether it was a false statement of fact. Note:
1) Opinions, no matter how negative or harmful, are not facts and do not constitute defamation. So if the other employer said you were "creepy" or were "disturbing" them, for example, that is an opinion and so is not defamation, even if it harms you.
2) To win a defamation case, you have to essentially be able to prove the factual statment about you false, which depending on what the statement allegedly was, may be difficult.


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