Compton, CA asked in Employment Law, Libel & Slander and Sexual Harassment for California

Q: Do i have a defamation case against my employer?


My name is Martin. I would like information in regards to filing a defamataion case against my employer. I have received final vacation pay and my employee status on ADP states "Terminated". I have not received any paper work from my employer. I believe that the termination process has started or is being finalized. Around the year 2018 I was a shift leader for the housekeeping dept. A female employee accused me of verbally and physically sexually harassing her. HR started an investigation and interrogated other employees. HR made final decision in giving me a warning without hearing my story. My manager received a letter from HR for him to read the warning and have it signed. Manager told me to sign it and write "I do not agree with this statement". He also mentioned HR did not correctly follow the protocol of investigation. A couple of months later my manager and I requested a pay increase for me. It was denied for the same reason. It caused me mental and emotional stress.

1 Lawyer Answer
Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Unfortunately there is nothing in your post that would suggest that you have a meritorious claim for defamation against your employer.

First, the employee who accused you of sexual harassment had a protected right to do so, and your employer has a legal duty to take her charge seriously. However, it did not have a legal duty to you to thoroughly investigate the truth of that claim. It's only legal duty at that stage was to the complaining employee.

Second, defamation is when someone publishes objectively untrue facts to third parties. There is no evidence that your employer published its findings to those other than necessary to carry out your discipline. Even if some people internal at the company was made aware that there was an investigation that resulted in discipline, that would not be enough. Your post does not suggest specific details, untrue details, were ever distributed.

Third, the fact the HR did not follow protocol is not something that you can turn into a defamation claim, or any kind of claim for that matter. As noted above, HR had no legal duty to carry out any particular protocol for you.

Finally, the fact you were denied a pay increase because there was discipline on your record is not unlawful and does not suggest defamation by the employer.

Good luck to you.

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