If I was suspended from work because of slander, what are my rights?

UPDATED: Dec 24, 2011

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If I was suspended from work because of slander, what are my rights?

A few weeks ago I inquired about a purse sitting in the employee room at my work. My manager informed me the purse had been left in the lobby and had been sitting in the crew room for about a week. I was told I could take it if no one had claimed it by the following day. Instead I decided to ask my GM just to make sure. My GM told me she was not allowed to give me anything found in the lobby. I said I understood and placed the purse in an unlocked locker. During my next 2 days off the purse disappeared. I had assumed my GM had taken it to the office as she had told me she had planned. An acquaintance of mine turned up with a very similar looking purse. I asked if she would be willing to trade for it and we struck a deal, a few hand made necklaces and a glass mushroom my boyfriend tossed in and I was the owner. Now however my manager is going around my work and telling the employees I stole the purse from the employee room even though the purse disappeared on my days off. I have been suspended from work because of this even though I have witnesses to the trade. Does this constitute slander and do I have the right to sue for wages lost?

Asked on December 24, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) If you don't have an employment  contract, you are an employee at will and may be fired at any time, for any reason--even a reason that turns out to be incorrect. So you would not have an action for reinstatement or back wages on that ground.

2) However, publically accusing you of theft--a negative factual assertion about you, which damages your reputation--could be defamation so long as it is not true; so if you are being publically accused of theft when you did not steal, you may be able to sue the manager for defamation. You may also be able to sue the employer, since the manager is doing this in the course of her employment. You should consult with a personal injury attorney to explore this cause of action.

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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