What to do if I was recently fired for patient abuse?

UPDATED: Jan 8, 2012

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What to do if I was recently fired for patient abuse?

A co-worker recently wrote me up saying I was being too rough to a patient. As a result, I was terminated from a nursing home where I have worked for over 30 years. No injuries were documented and my record there is immaculate. What can I do to restore my credibility?

Asked on January 8, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can't necessarily do anything, except as set out in 3), below:

1) Unless you had a contract guarantying you the right to certain job protections (e.g. a hearing, or warnings before termination, or proof of infractions, etc.), the employer may terminate you at will, including for unproven allegations of roughness.

2) You don't have a right to challenge or change what is written up in the personnel file--that file is company property, not yours.

3) What you can do, however, is if the employer tells others that you were too rough with a patient (e.g. discloses that to prospective employer seeking a recommendation), that could be defamation, since it is a negative factual statement about you, one which can damage your reputation, which you believe to be untrue. (Untrue facts are defamation; true facts or opinions--e.g. "John/Jane Doe is a bad employee," is someone's opinion, not a fact--are not defamation.) If the now-former empoloyer makes a defamatory statement about you to others, you could possibly sue them for defamation and recover compensation. You would speak to a personal injury attorney about this.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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