What to do if I was accused of sharing salary information of a co-worker while I was out maternity leave?

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What to do if I was accused of sharing salary information of a co-worker while I was out maternity leave?

The day I returned I was terminated for the reason of breaching a confidentiality agreement and tarnishing another employees reputation personally. I was never asked if the statements made against me were true or not. Would this constitute as deformation of character? I was wrongfully accused during my absence.

Asked on November 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It would potentially only be defamation if 1) the accusation about you was factually untrue (that is, you did not breach the confidentiality agreement, tarnish another employee's reputation, or share salary information); and also 2) the accusation was made to third parties (such as to co-workers of yours) and not just to you--there is no defamation in saying something, anything, directly to a person. If you believe you were defamed--so a factually untrue statement about you which damages your reputation was made to other people--you should consult with a personal injury attorney about whether you have a lawsuit or not.

If you think that this accusation by the company was untrue and it was merely a "smokescreen" hiding the fact that they really fired you because you took maternity leave, then you may be the victim of illegal sex- or gender-based discrimination. In that case, you might consult with an employment law attorney, or else speak to your state's equal/civil rights agency about filing a complaint.


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