Can I sue someone who has made false allegations about me and has cost me my job?

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Can I sue someone who has made false allegations about me and has cost me my job?

My former employer fired me for what they are saying is sexual harassment against a volunteer. I knew the person before she became a volunteer and that the “harassment” in question all happened outside of work hours and off property. She has gone on to further slander my name by falsely accusing me of more sexual acts and further damaging my image else where. Do I have a case against her, as well as my former employer?

Asked on June 1, 2011 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If someone makes false accusations of fact against you, which accusations damage your reputation, cause others to not work with you, etc., you may have a cause of action or claim against them for defamation. The important thing is, the accusations must be factual statements (not opinions) and they must be false--true statements, no matter how negative, are  not defamation.

2) So you may be able to sue the person making the accusations. You probably cannot sue your employer, however. The employer took reasonable action based on the information before it; indeed, in this environment, employers can face substantial liability for not acting on sexual harassment claims. While you could try speaking with an employment attorney, who can evaluate your specific situation in detail, in most cases, you would not have a cause of action against an employer who acted reasonably (based on what they knew) in terminating someone in a situation like this.


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