Does being fired due to false accusations constitute wrongful termination?

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Does being fired due to false accusations constitute wrongful termination?

I was accused of illegal activity at work by ajealous co-worker. The accusation is totaly false but they terminated me anyway. They cannot prove anything happened because it did not. They are totaly going by what this employee is saying. He is jealous that I had become his supervisor only after 5 months and he has been there for 1 1/2 years. Now his job is safe because he is a whisle blower. These accusations are 100% wrong and it is not fair for me to be terminated due to hearsay. I had an excellent evaluation less than 3 weeks earlier. They cannot prove his lies. Is this a wrong firing?

Asked on September 29, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, if you do not have a contract, you may be fired at any time, for any reason--even an incorrect reason or for no reason at all. Therefore, if you were fired because of accusations made by a coworker, that is still legal, because you could have been fired for no better reason, for example, than your boss woke up angy and decided to make himself feel better by firing someone. Without an employment contract, there's no protectable right to a job. (Note that if there is a contract, including a union agreement, that would be different; any relevant terms would have to be honored.)

You may have a defamation cause of action against you coworker. If he made a false statement of fact (so not an opion; it must be factual accusation, and one that is false) to a third party (such as management) and that statement damaged your reputation and/or made people not want to work with you, you may be able to sue him. If you believe this is the case, you might consult with an attorney about whether you do have a claim and what it might be worth. Good luck.


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