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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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