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How can I sue my prior employer for slander for calling me a Child Molester and accusing me of Theft?

Grand Junction, CO |

I was told on Jan 16, I was being terminated due to theft from LaQuinta, where I have worked for the last 3 1/2 years both as a housekeeper and housekeeping supervisor. I had numerous discussions with the GM about this issue of the housekeepers not getting their tips. I was informed by the Regional Vice President that the theft was not the reason why I was let go, yet he couldn't provide me with an accurate reasoning for the termination. I have no reason to take anything from anyone, and don't appreciate being lied to about why I was terminated. I want to know what I can do, if anything to sue LaQuinta for wrongful termination.

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Attorney answers 4


You should re-list this as a wrongful termination or defamation matter, instead of a criminal defense question. Understand that wrongful termination is hard to prove because of Colorado being an "at will" state and you being able to be fired for any reason that is not related to age, ethnicity, gender, disability, or race. It does not sound like any of those were the reasons that you were fired. It appears that they thought that your were stealing and they fired you. To sue for defamation of character, libel (written), or slander (verbal), you would need to show that the employer either knew that their accusations were wrong or acted with reckless disregard for investigating their truthfulness and that you have suffered economic damages as a result. With the information you have provided, it is hard to see what economic damages you have suffered and how you have been harmed in the greater Grand Junction community. I would consult with a local personal injury attorney in Mesa County.

The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are interested in his legal services, feel free to call Chris at (303) 409-7635 at his law office in the Denver Tech Center. All initial consultations are free of charge.


Generally, accusations of theft are not grounds for a wrongful termination suit, even if the accusation isn't really true. Employers can usually fire on the accusation alone - unions or contract employment may have different terms.

The 'child molester' part is a little touchy, because that would rise to "slander per se" having accused you of a heinous crime. You might want a consultation on that from a local attorney, if you can prove that part was said about you. It might be difficult to find an attorney willing to take on the case though - defamation cases are really tough to prove - unless it was transmitted in writing.

Here's a great article by a Colorado attorney:

Clark County, Nevada practitioner.



What is the accusation was a lie?

Ryan Alexander

Ryan Alexander


About the theft? It doesn't matter, they can usually still fire you for that. The molestation part doesn't have anything to do with your work, and is a much more vile statement about somebody... that might be the better angle if you are set on pursuing something. There are few attorneys interested in such cases though.


Absent a collective bargaining agreement, binding personnel policy, or employment agreement, you can quit at any time and you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all (except for discrimination based on a protected class like age, race, national origin, gender, etc). Therefore, unless one of the aboe applies, you cannot sustain a wrongful termination case just because the reason they give is not true.

It does matter whether they have a valid reason for your termination when you apply for unemployment compensation. If they challenge your right to unemployment compensation you wil be able to seek a hearing and show that you were not terminated for cause. An attorney is not necessary for this hearing, but can be helpful.

You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.


Forget about defamation. Even if the statements were defamatory (and they most likely were not), there is no defamation claim as a matter of law if the statements were not published to a 3rd party. Saying those things to you does not count.

Your employer most likely had the right to terminate you on these facts. Even if you didn't steal, even if the employer knows you didn't steal. In your state you can be fired for no reason at all or a bad reason. No proof of misconduct is required, and the employer is not required to do an investigation. In fact, the employer is not required to state -- or have -- a reason, and the employer is free under the law to lie to you about the reason. You were free to quit and you were subject to termination. That is "at will" employment.

There is a potentially applicable exception to general "at will" employment law and that is potentially available if your discussions with the G M about the tips was protected activity. This is a technical and fact-driven subject matter in employment law and you will need an experienced attorney to advise you on whether this issue may offer you some potential recourse.

Make a claim for unemployment benefits and appeal if denied right away and consult with a local employment attorney about the potential exception to at will termination law.

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.

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