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Civil or criminal court? Do I have a case? Libel or?

Canada, KY |

Yesterday I read my personnel file from the School District that fired me a year ago. I wanted to hopefully find out why I was fired. I was shocked to see that the HR Director wrote an email to his superior saying that I was being fired because I had written comments on Facebook about threatening to harm students, that all 4 principals in my town had seen these comments, and they all agreed I "needed to go". This is completely untrue. Any advice or directives would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 3

Posted

Consult an Employment Law Attorney ASAP to investigate your firing and protect your rights with regard to what appears to be wrongful termination.

Call for a free consultation at 727-937-1400 or visit us on the Web at www.serviceandjustice.com.

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Posted

What you describe is not under any circumstances a criminal offense. It may not be a sound civil action either.

The statements in your personnel file are not subject to a claim for libel (defamation) because, among other reasons, they have not been published to a 3rd party. The statements are made by the employer, noted and maintained by the employer, but absent a distribution or publication to a 3rd party, there is no viable claim for defamation even if the statements are provably false.

It is also highly unlikely that you can now make a claim for wrongful termination unless you had an employment contract. If so, take your contract to an attorney for an analysis of your rights and obligations under the contract. Act quickly, time limits may be running at this point.

If you did not have an employment contract, you may have rights to challenge your termination under your union's collective bargaining agreement. But time limits for making an appeal under a cba are typically very short so act immediately to contact your union rep on this issue.

If no contract and no union, you were an at will employee, albeit a public sector employee. Your District may have rules and regs that enable a challenge (a civil service type hearing and appeal) to your termination. Again, such rights are typically waived if not promptly exercised, so check immediately to determine whether an appeal could be timely at this point.

In the absence of any appeal rights based on any of the above, you may have no practical recourse. Kentucky is an at will employment state (as are 49 and a half of the states in the U.S.) and that means that the employer can terminate the employee (and the employee can quit) at anytime for any reason or no reason, even a wrong or false reason, so long as the termination does not violate the law. The typical grounds for termination that violate the law and will support a wrongful termination claim are termination based on race, gender, religious belief, etc. -- bias based on a protected classification or activity. The reason for your termination, as stated in your file and not challenged for a year, does not establish any basis for a claim of unlawful bias in your termination.

Talk with a local public sector employment attorney to more fully analyze your situation.

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.

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Posted

If you had an employment contract or were part of a union, you should have a local employment lawyer investigate.

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