What are a person’s right’s if they have been fired for something they didn’t do?

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What are a person’s right’s if they have been fired for something they didn’t do?

I know of a worker who had been on a job for 12 years and was falsely accused of verbal discrimination without a full investigation from the company and was fired. The worker didn’t sign the any papers that confirmed the offense. What can this worker do as far as the disciplinary action that has happened against full investigation? What are the worker’s right’s a far as fighting the allegations? Could this worker countersue?

Asked on April 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Kentucky

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Does the worker have an employment contract, including a union agreement, which guaranteed his or her job, limited the grounds for which he or she could be fired, or set out some disciplinary or investigative process which must be followed? If so, that contract is enforceable, and the worker may only be fired in accordance with it. If there is no contract, hyowever, the worker is an employee at will and may be fired  at any time, for any reason--including for allegations which are not proven or with which he or she does not agree. Therefore, there would be no cause of action--no ground to use--against the employer for termination, in the absence of an employment contract.

If there is some coworker who made false factual statements or allegations against this worker, then it is possible that coworker would be liable for defamation, and the fired worker may be able to sue him or her. Defamation is the public (to any other people--including HR or  supervisors) making of untrue factual statements which damage a person's reputation or makes others not want to do business with (or employ) him or her. True factual statements are not defamation; nor are opinions. If the worker feels he or  she may have been defamed, it would be a good idea to consult with a personal injury attorney.


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