Is there anythingthat Ican do about being fired based on false allegations?

UPDATED: Dec 1, 2010

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Is there anythingthat Ican do about being fired based on false allegations?

I worked for national retailer for 3 1/2 years with an excellent track record. I worked hard and eventually got promoted to a lead position. However my former fellow employee had to get demoted when that happened. Ever since then that employee said she was going to “get me back.” I believed I had nothing to worry about because I am professional at work and do nothing wrong. One day I came to work and found out the former lead had made allegations of sexual harassment. I was shocked when I heard this and still I thought everything was going to be OK because I didn’t say or do anything inappropriate. Then one morning I was opening the store when I got called to the back office. The manager said “due to the sexual harassment investigation were going to have to let you go.” I couldn’t believe it. I said “what did I do?”. The manager said I don’t know the loss prevention associate will contact you. Its been over a month and I have not received one call or letter. This has totally turned my life upside down. I did nothing but bust my butt for this company and somehow I got fired over nothing. I have a 1 year-old daughter to support and it has not been easy to find a new job. I apply to at least 3 companys a week and no one will hire me. This is not right. Someone should not be able to make up lies and get innocent people fired. Is there any way someone can help me? 

Asked on December 1, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

1) IF the allegations were, on their face credible, it *may* be the case that you don't have a claim against the former employer for the termination itself--they might have acted correctly, or at least acceptably, in letting you go. It's possible you have a claim, if they didn't investigate properly or didnt' follow their own internal procedures, and you should discuss this with an employment lawyer, but you should be prepared that if, on their face, the allegations were credible and realistic, it's *possible* the company did not do anything wrong. It depends on the circumstances, the policies, and the evidence, and again, it is worthwhile discussing your situation in detail with an attorney.

2) However, if the allegations were lies, you may (a) be able to sue the former coworker for defamation, which is the public (to even 1 other person) making of false factual statements which damage your reputation or make others less likely to work with you; and (b) again, depending in the circuumstances, you might have a cause of action against the former employer, for their own responsibility in one of their employees defaming you and causing you harm. This, too, is something you should explore with an attorney in depth.

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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