• FreeAdvice has a new Terms of Service and Privacy Policy, effective May 25, 2018.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our Terms of Service and use of cookies.

defamation in the workplace

Accident - Bankruptcy - Criminal Law / DUI - Business - Consumer - Employment - Family - Immigration - Real Estate - Tax - Traffic - Wills   Please click a topic or scroll down for more.

#1
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

I had worked at a grocery store for 4 years. After being promoted, I was moved to a different store location. Later I found out I was sent there to do a job I had never signed up for and never agreed to. However, I stuck it out and tried my best to do the job expected of me even though I was thoroughly being harassed by my one manager . After multiple phone calls to corporate about my unhappiness and unwillingness to do the job I never agreed to because nothing was being done to help me. I just stopped showing up to work after a month of "sticking it out".

A few months go by and my previous boss from the store I was originally at, the same one I worked at for 4 years, reached out to me saying he would like to have me back. When he went to corporate to get this approved they said I was not re-hirable because I had apparently told everyone to "f*** off" and flipped everyone off on my last day at the store I was sent to. I also had apparently sent a letter to corporate saying how bad the company is and how badly it is managed. NONE of these things are true. There are emails of proof that this is what I'm being accused of. NONE of these things happened and I was nothing but pleasant and polite when I resigned. I believe that the one manager at that particular location had personal issues with me so she made all of these things up so I would not be re hired with the company. Do I have a case here?? please help
 


#2
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

Do I have a case here?? please help
You might, but you first need to identify the person who made the statements. You might want to consult an attorney who litigates defamation claims to evaluate the case and tell you what it would cost to litigate it and what you might expect out of it. Many attorneys give free initial consultations, so you don't have much to lose by meeting with an attorney or two and see what they say.
 
#3
Okay, you cannot be sure where this information you have is really coming from. In the first place, local grocery managers rarely are "forbidden by corporate" to hire or rehire someone they really want to hire. "Corporate" is an entity frequently blamed, but rarely this involved in the day to day operations of a store. They are very very likely to use "corporate won't let me" as an excellent reason that they give to not hire or rehire someone they really do not like and do not want to rehire.

"There are emails of proof" that this is what they're saying I have done. Who showed you these emails? This would've been terribly unprofessional of the manager, showing someone who doesn't work there company emails. Did he actually do this to show you that you are rated as unhireable? That's not making very much sense.

As for all this "I wrote a letter and I told them this and I walked off after saying this" is a really wild story with no real purpose if it is totally unprovoked. For one thing, while giving them the finger and saying "I quit" to the group of co-workers is pretty subjective, (it's your word against theirs about what you did and said as you were leaving) why would anyone want to falsely accuse you of writing a letter to corporate if you didn't? A letter is tangible. They should have a copy if it was written. If you absolutely didn't write one, did someone go out and fake one before you quit or after you quit? That sounds like a phenomenal amount of trouble to take to blacken the name of an employee who has voluntarily quit. And it will make no difference in the long run. As I said, they don't have to have a great reason not to rehire you, with a large number of details, they can just say they don't want to.

They don't have to do all that justification. They can, in your "at will" state, terminate you for any reason they want to. You will not have a "wrongful termination" or "harassment" case against them since there are no laws that prohibit them from harassing you on the job or terminating you, unless it is for an EEOC protected reason. They don't have to hire you back. Same applies. There would be no huge pay-off for your former manager, even the one who hated you, to go to this much trouble to blacken your name with the company. Are you sure that in all your complaints to and communications with corporate you didn't ever put anything in writing that could be referred to as a letter?

Your original manager sent you off to another store to do a job you were not trained for and were not successful at doing. The new manager got rid of you. (Made things so uncomfortable for you that you quit.) If your old manager was sincere about rehiring you, and he looked at your rehire status, and he's still with the company, why would he set the company up for a possible lawsuit by telling you all these things you supposedly did and what they said as a reason not to hire you back? That doesn't seem very logical or professional of him.

You say, "after multiple calls to corporate about....." it begins to sound like you may have cooked your own goose in regard to working at this store, and they just plain old do not want you back. Even if you prove a case, it would cost you lots of time and money to do so, and really, what is the point?

Yes, you can speak with an attorney about whether or not you have a case. But if it is a chain of any size, they're not going to set things up so you can do this sort of suit easily. They've got attorneys to advise them and very set ways of doing things.

You got some valuable experience, but in the end you were not happy with this company, they were not happy with you, and now they do not want to rehire you. So now you need to move on.
 
Last edited:
#4
Okay, you cannot be sure where this information you have is really coming from. In the first place, local grocery managers rarely are "forbidden by corporate" to hire or rehire someone they really want to hire. "Corporate" is an entity frequently blamed, but rarely this involved in the day to day operations of a store. They are very very likely to use "corporate won't let me" as an excellent reason that they give to not hire or rehire someone they really do not like and do not want to rehire.

"There are emails of proof" that this is what they're saying I have done. Who showed you these emails? This would've been terribly unprofessional of the manager, showing someone who doesn't work there company emails. Did he actually do this to show you that you are rated as unhireable? That's not making very much sense.

As for all this "I wrote a letter and I told them this and I walked off after saying this" is a really wild story with no real purpose if it is totally unprovoked. For one thing, while giving them the finger and saying "I quit" to the group of co-workers is pretty subjective, (it's your word against theirs about what you did and said as you were leaving) why would anyone want to falsely accuse you of writing a letter to corporate if you didn't? A letter is tangible. They should have a copy if it was written. If you absolutely didn't write one, did someone go out and fake one before you quit or after you quit? That sounds like a phenomenal amount of trouble to take to blacken the name of an employee who has voluntarily quit. And it will make no difference in the long run. As I said, they don't have to have a great reason not to rehire you, with a large number of details, they can just say they don't want to.

They don't have to do all that justification. They can, in your "at will" state, terminate you for any reason they want to. You will not have a "wrongful termination" or "harassment" case against them since there are no laws that prohibit them from harassing you on the job or terminating you, unless it is for an EEOC protected reason. They don't have to hire you back. Same applies. There would be no huge pay-off for your former manager, even the one who hated you, to go to this much trouble to blacken your name with the company. Are you sure that in all your complaints to and communications with corporate you didn't ever put anything in writing that could be referred to as a letter?

Your original manager sent you off to another store to do a job you were not trained for and were not successful at doing. The new manager got rid of you. (Made things so uncomfortable for you that you quit.) If your old manager was sincere about rehiring you, and he looked at your rehire status, and he's still with the company, why would he set the company up for a possible lawsuit by telling you all these things you supposedly did and what they said as a reason not to hire you back? That doesn't seem very logical or professional of him.

You say, "after multiple calls to corporate about....." it begins to sound like you may have cooked your own goose in regard to working at this store, and they just plain old do not want you back. Even if you prove a case, it would cost you lots of time and money to do so, and really, what is the point?

Yes, you can speak with an attorney about whether or not you have a case. But if it is a chain of any size, they're not going to set things up so you can do this sort of suit easily. They've got attorneys to advise them and very set ways of doing things.

You got some valuable experience, but in the end you were not happy with this company, they were not happy with you, and now they do not want to rehire you. So now you need to move on.


I don't think you're understanding the extent of all this. The manager who didn't like me at the other store honestly probably is clinically insane with other encounters I've had with her. She is a 30 year old woman and multiple occasions has proven that she indeed WOULD go to those extreme measures just to hurt another person. I NEVER wrote a letter, and never did any of those things when I left. Those are all the reasons why as of right now I'm "unhireable". Yes, the manager did show me the emails accusing me of saying those things because I didn't even believe him when I heard it. So because of these people at the store I was mistakenly sent to, I am now unrehireable at my old location. Because of all the slander. If there really is a letter, I'd like to see it, because I sure as hell didn't write it.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#5
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

I had worked at a grocery store for 4 years. After being promoted, I was moved to a different store location. Later I found out I was sent there to do a job I had never signed up for and never agreed to. However, I stuck it out and tried my best to do the job expected of me even though I was thoroughly being harassed by my one manager . After multiple phone calls to corporate about my unhappiness and unwillingness to do the job I never agreed to because nothing was being done to help me. I just stopped showing up to work after a month of "sticking it out".

A few months go by and my previous boss from the store I was originally at, the same one I worked at for 4 years, reached out to me saying he would like to have me back. When he went to corporate to get this approved they said I was not re-hirable because I had apparently told everyone to "f*** off" and flipped everyone off on my last day at the store I was sent to. I also had apparently sent a letter to corporate saying how bad the company is and how badly it is managed. NONE of these things are true. There are emails of proof that this is what I'm being accused of. NONE of these things happened and I was nothing but pleasant and polite when I resigned. I believe that the one manager at that particular location had personal issues with me so she made all of these things up so I would not be re hired with the company. Do I have a case here?? please help
I do not see that you have much to support a defamation claim, even if the company's description of events leading up to you leaving was not true.

It sounds as if your many complaints to management might have in part led to the company's decision not to rehire you. "Playing well with others" is an important part of any job and you (for reasons good or bad) seem to have had difficulty doing this.

With that said, defamation claims in Pennsylvania must be filed within one year of the defamatory publication. You do not have much time to gather the evidence you need to file a claim. You need a defendant.

Here are two links, the first to an overview of Pennsylvania defamation laws published by the Digital Media Law Project, and the second to Chapter 83, section 8343, on what you need to prove to be successful with a claim:

DMLP: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/pennsylvania-defamation-law

8343:
http://www.legis.state.pa.us/cfdocs...pe=HTM&ttl=42&div=0&chpt=83&sctn=43&subsctn=0

You can review all of the facts with an attorney in your area who is well-versed in defamation law but, from what you have said here, I am not seeing a legal action for you to pursue that would be successful.

Good luck.
 
Last edited:

CTU

Meddlesome Priestess
#6
I don't think you're understanding the extent of all this. The manager who didn't like me at the other store honestly probably is clinically insane with other encounters I've had with her. She is a 30 year old woman and multiple occasions has proven that she indeed WOULD go to those extreme measures just to hurt another person. I NEVER wrote a letter, and never did any of those things when I left. Those are all the reasons why as of right now I'm "unhireable". Yes, the manager did show me the emails accusing me of saying those things because I didn't even believe him when I heard it. So because of these people at the store I was mistakenly sent to, I am now unrehireable at my old location. Because of all the slander. If there really is a letter, I'd like to see it, because I sure as hell didn't write it.
Someone seeking to sue for defamation should probably stay away from making statements such as those I bolded.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#7
Someone seeking to sue for defamation should probably stay away from making statements such as those I bolded.
I agree. Those types of comments if uttered publicly are (potentially) far more harmful that the lies allegedly told about bettafish.

I should also mention that some comments made by an employee in a workplace to the employer of that workplace can be protected by a qualified privilege. This privilege allows an immunity from suit when what is communicated is communicated in good faith and to protect a legitimate business interest.

A showing of actual malice can defeat this privilege (showing that what was communicated was known to be false and intended to cause harm). It is the "intent" to cause harm that can be difficult to prove.
 

Shadowbunny

Queen of the Not-Rights
#8
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? PA

I had worked at a grocery store for 4 years. After being promoted, I was moved to a different store location. Later I found out I was sent there to do a job I had never signed up for and never agreed to. However, I stuck it out and tried my best to do the job expected of me even though I was thoroughly being harassed by my one manager . After multiple phone calls to corporate about my unhappiness and unwillingness to do the job I never agreed to because nothing was being done to help me. I just stopped showing up to work after a month of "sticking it out".

...... and I was nothing but pleasant and polite when I resigned.
I'm confused: did you stop showing up or did you resign? Because abandoning the job would be reason enough for most employers to put you on a "do not rehire" list, even without all the other allegations.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#9
Agreed. I am afraid bettafish may have done more harm to his reputation than the lies about him did. Bettafish does not appear to have a legal action to consider, at least based on what has been said.
 
Sponsored Ad

Top