What is legally acceptable behavior regarding criticism by an employer?

UPDATED: Jun 18, 2014

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What is legally acceptable behavior regarding criticism by an employer?

A team member went to another supervisor to spread false information about me. This caused tension between us until I cleared up the misunderstanding. The employee has done this on more than one occasion. When I asked the supervisor to call the employee in to address the behavior, they not only refused to provide a name but to resolve the issue at all. I ultimately approached our manager on the subject. The manager claimed there was more than one individual who did not want me to succeed. Refusing to address the situation, the manager proceeded to criticize me, citing I was not very leader like and cared too much about employee morale.

Asked on June 18, 2014 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You presumably do not have an employment contract--very few of us do. If so, you are an "employee at will"; that means your employer may criticize you, undermine you, discipline you, even fire you, at any time, for any reason--even incorrect or unfair ones. You have no recourse against the employer for the behavior you describe.

IF you do become aware of which co-worker is lying about you, you may be able to sue that co-worker for defamation, which is making false factual assertions about you, which damage your reputation, to other people (e.g. the supervisor); you'd have to be be able to prove the assertions or statements about you are false. But unfortunately, as stated, that's only against the co-worker making the false statements; as an employee at will, you have almost no employment rights against your employer.

(If you do have an employment contract, review it; you can enforce whatever it says about disciplin and the like.)

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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