Can I sue my Boss for slander and emotional distress for false write-ups or for bullyingharrassment/?

Asked over 1 year ago - Pittsburg, CA

My boss has had it out for me for awhile now and has written me up for things I did not do, I wrote a rebuttal letter and since then she has created a hostile and uneasy environment, and has really been a bully, to where I ended up going on medical leave for 2 weeks causing various medical issues due to stress and anxiety. I came back to work and within 2 hours of being back I was written up again for issues that was brought up while i was on leave, and it was pretty serious and I don't believe I was at fault. I feel she is constantly slandering my character and is creating emotional distress for me to where I had to leave the office that day and ended up being put back on leave for another week and leading to disability for a few more weeks by a Psychologist.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Christine C McCall


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Taken as a whole your post suggests that you are caught in a prolonged and complex personal conflict with your boss. That can be a very stressful situation, but the legal rights of the employee in such situations are very limited.

    For the most part, the law does not enable defamation (slander or libel) claims based on employment performance evaluations. The boss is not only allowed to state an opinion of the employee's performance, that is the assignment by the employer. And any employment review is by definition opinion, and defamation claims cannot be successfully maintained an opinion, even if the opinion is provably wrong and unfair.

    An emotional distress allegation in these circumstances is also highly dubious. The employee's exclusive remedy for any physical or psychic injury sustained in the course of employment is through the worker's comp system. The work comp system is by and large a "no fault" system, but a claim based on injury or illness caused by the employee's reaction to supervisor's expressed disapproval of employee work performance is not likely to be a successful work comp claim.

    It is not bullying when the supervisor or employer criticizes work performance or instructs the employee in different conduct, even if there is anger, frustration, hostility and disrespect in the employer/manager's interactions with the employee. The law acknowledges that the employer is paying the employee to do what the employer wants, the way the employer wants. When the employee fails to satisfy, the employer's disapproval matters and can be acted upon. That is the core of the concept of paid employment: it is for the benefit of the employer.

    The employer has a legal right to terminate an employee for being non-responsive, uncooperative, defiant or otherwise giving bad attitude in response to an employment write-up or even verbal corrections and disapproval. The employer has that right even if the write-up or criticism is factually wrong, and even if the employee is not at fault for the issues detailed in the write-up or criticism.

    Do you have any evidence on which to base an allegation that the underlying reason for the supervisor's original write-up, or the supervisor's unpleasant follow-up to your rebuttal of it, is based on your race, religion, or another protected characteristic? If so, then you will want to immediately consult with a local employment discrimination attorney. If the protected classifications of race, religion, etc., are not the reasons for your supervisor's disapproval and treatment of you, then it may be time to look for a new job or to somehow find the emotional stamina to take the initiative to try and repair this damaged relationship.

    When the employee get sick because the employee is offended by the employer's expressed dissatisfactions with the employee's work performance, the employee does not enjoy meaningful legal protections.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended... more
  2. William Emil Cassara


    Contributor Level 18


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am not a CA lawyer, but Ms. McCall's answer is spot on. The courts are not going to get into a "she said, she said" dispute between you and your boss. Unless you are a member of a union or have some form of a written employment contract that governs such things, you are what is known as an "at will" employee. That means you can quit for no reason, and they can fire you for no reason. So in a situation like you describe, it is better to make nice then risk losing your job.

    This post is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney... more
  3. Christian K. Lassen II


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Christine laid it out well

Related Topics

Emotional distress caused by personal injury

Emotional distress refers to the negative mental effects an injury has, including fear, loss of sleep, depression, and other effects.

Personal injury and defamation

Defamation is any type of emotional or psychological personal injury that occurs when someone intentionally harms another’s character or reputation.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.


Ask now

17,126 answers this week

2,342 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

17,126 answers this week

2,342 attorneys answering