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Slander and the "at will" doctrine in Illinois?

Chicago, IL |

I'm well aware of the "at will" doctrine in Illinois, but I'm a little confused when it comes to slander. Here's a non-union scenario.Two coworkers report false misconduct charges to a hr manager. The hr manager does not investigate and terminates the employee and gives them a copy of the misconduct charge in writing. As a result, the employee can not collect unemployment due to a misconduct charge. Questions: If the employee can prove the statements are false with video and witnesses, do they have any legal recourse in an "at will" state? Did the hr manager violate their "qualified privilege" by not investigating the coworker's misconduct charges? Is slander a violation of public policy in Illinois? If so, can it be a grounds for a wrongful termination suit? Appreciate any responses.

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Attorney answers 1


Possibly and the co-workers may have liability too. Slander is not a violation of public policy -- it is simply a legal wrong. But too many other issues: if there' an HR department of any kind there is probably some kind of disciplinary process so without knowing all of those things it's impossible to say. You should see an attorney who can determine what your work place situation was and whether any company policies were in place and/or not followed -- those "modify" the "at will" doctrine.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of Illinois. Responses are based solely on Illinois law unless stated otherwise.