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Can I sue my former employer for defamation of character for being fired due to being accused of being rude to those I supervise

Stanton, IA |

I was falsely accused of being rude to those I supervised and I was fired because of their false accusations. I am a Registered Nurse and the job I was fired from was my first Nursing job and this has left me very distraught and upset and uncertain how this will affect me getting a nursing job in the future. I feel my character has been majorly assasinated and drug through the mud by the certified Nursing assistants who falsely accused me.

Attorney Answers 6

  1. I'm sorry but it doesn't appear you have a claim. The statements made about you are opinions which do not qualify as defamation in this case.

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  2. A defamation claim is one of the very hardest claims to win. Representing yourself is not an option. You are unlikely to find a lawyer who will represent you on such a claim without paying a lot of money for legal fees. If you are prepared to do that, you will need to find an attorney experienced in such claims and have a face to face consultation. If you do seek legal advice, do it soon. Defamation claims have short statutes of limitations.

    Any opinions stated in response to Avvo questions are based upon the facts stated in the question. Responses to Avvo questions are for general information purposes only, and should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice.

  3. Based on your factual summary, this is not a circumstance of potentially meritorious defamation claims.

    The reasons for your termination are by definition your employer's opinion of you, and opinions are not subject to defamation law. Moreover, for there to occur defamation, there must be publication to a 3rd party of false statement of fact, not just publication to you. Then, there must be damages -- actual losses -- to you caused by the publication of the false matter. Your losses are attributable to your termination, not to any publication. Finally, within the context of employment, your co-workers' statements to your employer are not the cause of your termination. Your termination is caused by your employer's assessment of those statements along with all of the other info that your employer had about you and your performance.

    I understand that you have been hit hard emotionally here, but the summary of facts you have provided strongly suggests that this matter is not a sound basis for a defamation lawsuit.

    If you were represented by a union in your job, talk with your union rep about whether you can appeal your termination. Act quickly --time limits for initiating an appeal under a collective bargaining agreement can be very short.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

  4. As has been pointed out, you are referring to claims made against you by co-workers which can be characterized as opinion, as much as fact; and it appears that your employer chose to believe the others and not you. Essentially, you are referring to what is often referred to as a question of credibility, based on a "he said/she said" scenario. A war of credibility without any strong independent proof is not the kind of evidence that a defamation claim can be won on. An additional consideration is that in the concept of employment law, if Iowa is an "employment at will" State, meaning you can be fired by the employer at will, which means for no reason at all (unless you can prove it is for an illegal reason by your employer - which this does not constitute), you would have a problem proving "damages" caused by the co-workers words, vs. the permissible termination by your employer.

  5. If you are not a member of a nursing union, chances are you have very little recourse here. If you are a union member, contact your shop Steward for assistance. Without a union contract, you are an employee at will and subject to dismissal without notice. Your employer's opinion of you, whether correct or not, is not actionable.

    Legal Disclaimer:

    If this information has been helpful, please indicate below.

    Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.

    This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.

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