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Can you file suite in small claims aganist an employer for lying to the Employment department about cause of termination?

Portland, OR |

I was employed for 10 days. The oweners are husband and wife, going through a divorce/seperation. I was hired by the husband. The Office manager was an older lady that was insecure in her job abilities and my appearance. She made phone calls to the owner, the wife, whom had never been in the office and met me yet, and stated that I was dressing inapproprately at work, Untrue!
Without ever informing me of when my lunch or break times were to be taken, I was written up on 07/05/11 for taking a break without proper authorization first. This is also untrue, as I was never told when to take my breaks, so around 10-10:30 am, I would take my first break. I always let someone know that I was going on break, NEVER did anyone ever tell me not to or that I was not allowed to. My start time was 7:30

I filed for unemployment benefits, the claim was denied due to the employers' statement that I had received prior warrning and continued the behavior. This is a flat out lie. I received my first and only warrning on 07/05/11. I worked for about 25 mins. longer after the warrning, then they said "business is slow, go ahead and go home for the day". I received a VM at 6:58 am on 07/06/11 from the owner (husband) that he was going to have to "let me go" due to "too many problems with other office staff". He stated to me that his wife, was 50% owner, she wanted me gone, period.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. You cannot force the other party to specifically do anything in small claims court (such as making a statement to clear the air regarding your unemployment benefits). However, you can sue for damages caused by their actions. If you are seeking $750 or less, that's automatically going to be a small claims case. However, as long as you are seeking $7,500 or less, you MAY file your suit in small claims court. This is described at: (look at section 55.011).

    Also, here is a link from the Oregon State Bar that explains the small claims process in general:

    My responses to posts on AVVO are not legal advice, nor do they create an attorney-client relationship. In order to provide true (and reliable) legal advice, an attorney must be able to ask questions of the person seeking legal advice and to thus gather the appropriate information. In order for an attorney-client relationship to exist, you and I both have to agree the the terms of such an agreement.

  2. I disagree with the prior answer. I don't think there is a lawsuit of any value here.

    The statement that you were dressing inappropriately is an opinion and not actionable under the law. The statement that you took a break at the wrong time or without authorization is not actionable as defamation -- that, too, is opinion and subject to subjective determination by the employer. That's what "at will" employment is all about. Moreover, this statement does not appear to have been "published" to any third party. Statements made to you, true or not, are not actionable as defamation.

    Statements made (and implicitly found credible) in an administrative proceeding regarding your entitlement to unemployment benefits cannot be the subject of a defamation action. The finder of fact may have been wrong, but under the law the finder of fact's decision will not be disturbed without a showing of unlawful application of law. Further, your application for UI benefits is what caused the statements by the employer to be made in the proceeding. there is no wilfull "publishing" of any untrue statement to a 3rd party on these facts.

    Finally, you have a problematic issue as to showing recoverable damages as to each of the three statements that you complain about.

    I don't disagree that you had a terrible experience here. But be glad that you had only 10 days invested and understand that the law does not redress every bad experience.

    My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an 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 individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

  3. You need to file a timely appeal of any unemployment insurance decision. You have a right to a hearing, as long as you request one within the applicable time limit.

    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.

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