What to do if I was just sent a letter from the company that I was laid off from that I had a hygiene issue?

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What to do if I was just sent a letter from the company that I was laid off from that I had a hygiene issue?

I was laid off due to lack of work. However they stated that they found fleas in the area that I work in, which is a 18×20 room that is a community room shared with another person. Anyone can come and go as they please. Can they legally do that, I mean at this point I’m totally embarrassed as I don’t have fleas and yet I’m being accused of it and told that they will not call me back until I take care of the problem.

Asked on December 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, they can do this:

1) Anyone can send any letter, embarrasing or not, true or not, directly to another person (or tell them the same thing in person, over the phone, by email or text message, etc.). The law does not protect you from hearing things you'd rather not hear. If the letter were sent (e.g. as an email, with multiple CC's) to third parties, and if the accusation were untrue, that might be defamation; but defamation is only when an untrue factual statement, which damages your reputation, is made to third parties. It is not defamation to say it to you.

2) Employment is employment at will, unless there was an employment contract guarantying you work. In the absence of a contract, your employer is under no obligation to call you back at all, or may predicate calling you back on you doing something about alleged bad hygiene.


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