Can I sue for damages regarding lost wages and libel?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Can I sue for damages regarding lost wages and libel?

I have 2 problems with my previous employer. Lost wages and libel. I think it was done in retaliation for whistleblowing. First of all, my last paycheck after I resigned is short by 7.5 hours. About 3 weeks ago, I discovered it and notified HR. New Link Destination
day, HR called me and explained it. My supervisor lied to the HR department about my vacation request and my supervisor lied to me about what hours the company would be paying me. So far, I have not received the money. HR said that they need to look into a few things and that they would get back to me. Also, I received a letter from the Vice President of the parent organization

accusing me of coming back uninvited trying to participate in the senior center activities causing a disruption to operations. The letter threatens me that I should not come to the center or attend affiliated events unless I am invited by management otherwise they will take further action if I do not comply. The letter is a defamation of my character because I was verbally invited by the supervisor, senior center members and other employees to return to visit them at the center, attend their fundraisers and volunteer. These conversations occurred on many occasions with many witnesses before I resigned, after I resigned and the 2 occasions when I returned to the center. There is no policy that says we cannot come back to the center and there have

been many times previous employees have returned to visit, attend the casino trip fundraisers, and/or volunteer. The same things that I wanted to do and was told by management that I was permitted to do. As a matter of fact, for the past 4 years I’ve actually been instructed by the company to contact previous

employees who offered to help with events and ask them to volunteer. These accusations, threats and lost wages have caused me to become depressed, anxious and sleep deprived. I went to the doctor and was prescribed medication for my insomnia. This letter and the accusations can also cause problems with future employment opportunities because it is on record. It is possible for future employers to learn about the letter verbally/and or by documentation. Also, before this letter, I was planning on working with the parent company in the future. I’m relocating to my property up north and they have numerous job opportunities and locations up there. I think my supervisor and the company are doing this to me because I blew the whistle on them to the Allegheny County Area Agency on Aging earlier this year for a food safety issue and a workplace safety health issue in the kitchen. I even contacted our HR and told them that I was worried about retaliation from my supervisor and/or the company for reporting them. I told them that I felt that I was working in a hostile environment but HR said that only refers to sexual harassment. Since we are partially funded by the county and I was the Senior Center Coordinator I was responsible for food safety and reporting. My decision to close the senior center kitchen for one day and report them to the county had negative consequences for the company. I also provided one of the senior center members and one of the volunteers the contact information that they requested to report their observations to the county. My supervisor found out from the county that there were phone calls made by consumers reporting their concerns about the kitchen and center area.

Asked on August 27, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The letter you received is not defamation (libel is written defamation). Defamation is making an untrue factual statement about you to other people, which statement damages your reputation or otherwise causes you harm. However, comments or statements, whether written or oral, made to you--like this letter--are not defamation, since they are not statements which damage your reputation to other people read or heard them. They may cause you emotional distress, but the law does not protect us from being upset by what others say to us.
As for the wages: if you believe you were shorted, you could sue for the money; whether it is worth suing for 7.5 hours is a different story.

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 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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