What to do when you are falsely accused of making inappropriate remarks of sexual nature?

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What to do when you are falsely accused of making inappropriate remarks of sexual nature?

I have been recently suspended from work for the above accusation (and for making generally derogatory, demeaning and disrespectful remarks). There is an investigation on-going. Management stated that it has been reported that I made these kind of remarks to my staff. I was in shock when they confronted me about this. I know that the statements are false and truly believe this is a personal attack which constitutes defamation of character – both by management and those who made the initial false statements. When I was issued the investigatory leave document, there were no dates backing up incidents of such accusation. What should I do?

Asked on April 1, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First, the bad news--unless you have a contract which limits grounds for suspension or other action (e.g. demotion, termination), you are an employee at will and may be suspended--or face other consequences at any time, for any reason, including mistaken reasons. So if you don't have a contract, then you pretty much may be suspended without recourse.

(Another exception though would be if you believe  that you yourself are being discriminated against in employment on the basis of a protected characteristic, such as race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability; if so, you may have an employment discrimiantion claim.)

The good news is that you may have a defamation claim against the company and/or the people making these accusations. Defamation is the public (to any other people) making a false statement of fact that damages someone's reputation or makes others less likely to work with them. If you believe that you have been falsely accused of having said or done things which you did not, you might be able to make out a defamation claim, and should contact a personal injury attorney or employment attorney (since it's in a work context) to explore.


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