You may have a good claim for defamation. You should consider trying to get written statements from your witness.
Until you come in for a consultation, please be advised that you are not considered a client of the firm and no attorney client relationship is established. Thus, this email is not to advise you of any legal rights but merely to advise of a general response to your posting. Also, please note that I am a NJ lawyer and you should ensure that before you take action, you consult with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where you reside. This way, you can have the benefit of someone who is familiar with case law and statutes particular to your state as well as someone who can discuss your matter in more full detail as well as review documents.
I am sorry that you face such a stressful situation at work. No lawyer could assess whether you have wrongful termination and/or claims for defamation based only on the information in your question. However,unless you are a member of a union which has a collective bargaining agreement with your employer and/or you have a written employment agreement, you are an "at will" employee. This means that you can be terminated for any reason that is non discriminatory (i.e, race, sex, sexual orientation, age, religion ethnicity, disability). It sounds to me like your boss does not like you, does not trust you, and does not think you behave in an appropriate manner in your dealings with other employees. While he used strong language, most courts would understand that he was expressing his negative opinion about you, rather than making assertions of facts (although the assertion that you are a liar and thief in some contexts could be defamatory). Your boss is entitled to express negative opinions about you to co-workers. Even if these opinions are unfair, if your boss believes that your conduct has had a negative impact on the business, he could terminate you for this reason, and he certainly can express his views to your co-workers. Thus, however upset you may be, without a great deal of additional information I cannot in confidence say that you have legitimate claims. The only way you can determine whether you have legitimate legal claims is to retain employment counsel in your local area to review all of the facts and details. You should know that you have an uphill battle in a situation such as this.
Also, it is important to note that you have a duty to mitigate your damages. It sounds like you have not been fired---you simply have been criticized. If you have not been terminated, then you could be accused of violating your obligation to mitigate damages if you simply quit. Notwithstanding your boss's verbal tirade, if you have not been terminated then you probably still have the opportunity to continue performing your duties and, hopefully, improve your performance. If you have been terminated, then you have an obligation to mitigate your damages by seeking additional employment as soon as possible. Bottom line---go see an employment lawyer in your local town.
Legal Advice: after 3 years, there will be so many versions of that meeting that it will be hard to prevail. Practical advice: find another job and leave by the High Road.
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Employment law for businesses Personal injury and defamation Personal injury and slander Business Employment Discrimination in the workplace Hostile work environment Disability discrimination in the workplace Termination of employment Wrongful termination of employment Types of employment At-will employment Lawsuits and disputes Disability discrimination Discrimination