Libel, false allegations, older worker, at-will employmt

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Latest post Mon, Jul 16 2007 11:15 AM by cbg. 4 replies.
  • Sat, Jul 14 2007 7:05 PM

    • work4kids
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    Question [=?] Libel, false allegations, older worker, at-will employmt

    "Libel" involves the publishing of a falsehood that harms someone. Slander is the same doctrine applied to the spoken word. Collectively, they are referred to as "defamation". Both are a matter of state laws, which usually (not always) require that the falsehood be intentional. (Wikipedia)

    "Allegations remain assertions without proof, only claims until they are proved." (Wikipedia)

    I would like to discuss "libel" & "allegations."
    I received a written memo from my boss outlining false "allegations" based on what boss says "other people" said.

    I asked boss who are these "other people." Boss could not respond.

    The issue is, I started a new job with enthusiasm and earnestness to do well and to work collectively with a group of sales team members.

    I successfully completed a long term training program with my team.

    During the course of training, there were times that I asked some relevant questions in order to elicit a response to clarify my understanding and to also stretch the concept a bit further for additional learning purposes.

    In this sales training environment, I soon learned that questions were not welcomed (just memorize the stuff we learned, shut up, do your job, etc...)

    Another issue which may be completely irrelevant but I will share. I am 41 & I worked for a few weeks in the HR area and got hired into this sales area. I was also privy to salaries before I took this job.

    I have a lot of related experience for this position I applied to. My colleagues are much younger than me and were also hired into the same position with higher salaries. I know because again I worked in the HR dept.

    I remember politiely inquiring about MY OWN salary in the beginning -- and counteroffering to the hiring mgr due to the related work experience I've had & additional education I received.

    Instead, I was offered a much lower salary & had few choices but to accept it & this job because my former position was being eliminated.

    Since I've started this job, (and I know there are NO laws on bullying in the work place & we each have a choice to either stay or go)...I have been bullied in a sense.

    Boss has been 'tracking' my every move, and most recently gave me a memo outlining some "false allegations" that were said to him by other employees. I was not aware of this until he showed me his memo.

    I asked boss "who" said these things? Boss said, "I can't tell you."

    Also, boss assigned me a seasoned employee to work with me in the early part of the job to "show me the ropes." This person has not provided me with any useful information that would help me do my job well. This person actually gave me incorrect information while I was completing a bill to a vendor--and this resulted in my being "written up" for not following proper procedures.

    When I told the boss that this is what the seasoned employee told me to do-- boss dismissed this and later wrote me up in a memo twisting all the facts around to make it look like I intentionally made a mistake.

    Another incident occured where this seasoned employee yelled at me in my office and gave me specific orders to do something and when I was interrupted with a phone call, this employee grabbed my phone and hung up my call.

    When I told my boss about this -- boss denied this and said the issue would be taken care of. Instead I was also written up about this incident.

    I have no witnesses --

    Boss said this memo is not as serious as a performance review but will remain in my files.

    I asked why there were no written memos about my good performance (which I have kept a record of) including some positive feedback I've received from my peers. I said even during training I did outstanding on my work in the class. No absenses nor illnesses reported.

    Boss said this isn't the purpose of this memo. It isn't written to address what you've done well it is for correction of "my behavior" which has been unacceptable and unprofessional.

    My response (??????)

    Obviously, I am in need to look for other work. And this concerns me a great deal for reasons:
    1. my age (41) (single)
    2. timing since I just started this job & the Co. put a lot of money into each employee to train them.
    3. I may not be as fast, but I certainly am not slow.
    4. I'm not outdated in my appearance, I'm professional, and am eager to do my job well.
    5. I do ask questions though that have concerned me-- but I try not to make any waves.
    6. This is a sales environment--and I've seen a lot of unscrupulous things go on -- which I keep to myself.

    I'm unable to get direct answers from my boss. It appears that I've been falsely accused of statements that aren't true (things boss says I've said).

    Is boss's memo to me which includes false allegations considered "libel?" The statements in the memo were untrue and were put in my HR file. I asked HR about this and they sided with boss. "It's just a counseling memo."

    If any other department manager saw this, this could certainly hinder my chances of seeking a position in another dept. (my thinking) and not only that, but god forbit I was laid off or terminated, I bet this could also be used against me if I applied for unemployment.

    I am aware of "at-will" employment and I am in a state that has this.

    Any ideas on how I can protect myself?
  • Sat, Jul 14 2007 11:11 PM In reply to

    • Beth3
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    • Joined on Sat, Mar 24 2001
    • Posts 5,466

    Feedback [*=*] re: Libel, false allegations, older worker, at-will employmt

    "Is boss's memo to me which includes false allegations considered "libel?"" No. As a manager, your boss is paid to provide and document his opinion on your job performance. Additionally, members of management are "parties in interest" in your employment and as such have a high degree of protection against claims of libel and slander.

    "If any other department manager saw this, this could certainly hinder my chances of seeking a position in another dept. (my thinking) and not only that, but god forbit I was laid off or terminated, I bet this could also be used against me if I applied for unemployment. " Only if you were terminated for "willful misconduct" as defined in your State's UC regulations.

    "Any ideas on how I can protect myself?" You can't make your co-workers be nice to you or the boss see things your way. All one can suggest is not to rock the boat and perform your job to the best of your ability while seeking new employment.

    P.S. At 41 years of age, you're hardly an "older worker." You haven't even hit your prime yet.


  • Sun, Jul 15 2007 1:29 AM In reply to

    Question [=?] Libel, false allegations, older worker, at-will employmt

    One additional follow up:
    My original question: "Is boss's memo to me which includes false allegations considered "libel?"

    Response: "No. As a manager, your boss is paid to provide and document his opinion on your job performance. Additionally, members of management are "parties in interest" in your employment and as such have a high degree of protection against claims of libel and slander."

    This one memo is in my file. It contains false allegations. So, if basically your mgr doesn't like you, he/she is immune from false statements and can document anything he/she desires?

    My next question is: Should I respond to the memo in writing and refute what was written? I am thinking I should have something in the files to defend myself.

    So far, there's nothing positive that has been said to me. Nothing at all. Yet I can list things I've done that have been positive.

    Other than just coming in and "doing my job to the best of my ability," I am thinking that I have to take responsibility for what was written about me and "say something" about it to the parties that were notified of this memo by my boss.

    In addition to keeping my head down & just doing my job, what would a reasonable person do in response to a harsh memo filled with false allegations?

    I hate to have to consider looking for another job (this stinks) 41 isn't that young in the work force--especially when it took one quite a while to get this job-- looking for work which indicates to an outside employer that I want to leave this job so soon after I started (which is a reputable place) puts the spot light on me.

    I'm thinking that because it's a sales environment, my boss is thinking that I won't produce as well as the others--yet wouldn't any reasonable person feel a bit anxious after receiving a harsh memo filled with false allegations? Who in their right mind could sleep well and come in the next day without wondering whether the boss will give them the axe that day?

    I don't see others around me being treated this way and they are much younger.

    Bottom line:
    Is there a need to consult an attorney and put someone "outside" the Co. on notice in the event of a job loss and I am left without the possibility of UC? I'm not trying to lose my job, I've been doing my best since I've started.


  • Mon, Jul 16 2007 11:09 AM In reply to

    • Drew
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    • Joined on Thu, Mar 30 2000
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    re: Libel, false allegations, older worker, at-will employmt

    In an at will situation you can be terminated at any time--and its perfectable legal for a boss to accumulate a file of "stuff' about you so as to defend a termination within the system.

    While I may agree you are being sabotaged--to be sabotaged is not illegal. If the boss wants a "team" play then sort out what the boss wants--or sort out a good exit plan or both.

    Technically in my state, if over 40 you would be in a protected class if younger folks were paid more in identical positions etc--but unless you are a member of a protected minority and the other are not I'd suspect your complaint to go to the bottom of the file and then --by which time you'd be fired for some safe or unstated reason---



  • Mon, Jul 16 2007 11:15 AM In reply to

    • cbg
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    • Joined on Thu, Dec 21 2000
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    re: Libel, false allegations, older worker, at-will employmt

    Anyone over 40 is in a protected class under Federal law.

    However, just being over 40 does not guarantee a claim of age discrimination even under the circumstances you quote. Experience, job performance, length of time with the company and other non-discriminatory factors can mean that even someone over 40 can be paid less than someone younger and it will still be legal.
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