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Is this right? What can I do?


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#1 OkcJay

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:32 PM

I work as a bartender, one of my bosses at my job said he seen myself and a co-worker drinking alcohol during our shift. I was not drinking but from my side this is what happened.. I was bartending with my usual co-bartender on a not very busy night. I was watching people and had my eye on a man walking up to the bar I grabbed my cup (which had a straw)of cranberry and redbull,I took a drink. While I was still with drink in hand, one of my bosses opened the back door and said the phrase "ya'll are some stupid asses" i was very confused at this point until my other boss brought both of us out to the hall and there we were told that he seen us take a shot of alcohol and throw the cup away, although he has no proof of this and I was not aware of what my co-worker was doing at said time (even though I personally don't think he was taking a shot of alcohol), my co-worker began to state that he wasn’t and we have a mess up behind the bar of alcohol but it is still sitting there, I stood dumbfounded and quite honestly livid. No0t only did this man call me a name in front of guest but also is accusing me of drink at a job I have had for some time now without any problems. I wrote up a statement that I was not initially aware would go to human resources but afterwards found out it was so they could decide. I was suspended and sent home, and on my way home I received messages from a different co-worker who is also employed there that he has heard what happened, that my boss was telling people about it, he knew before I said anything. My question is this; is this defamation of character? Is him calling me a "stupid ass" in front of a customer Harassment? I mean this man has said awful things to me before as well as many other employees know that he is very rude and I am not the only one he has talked to like this.

#2 NYCEmploymentAttorney

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Posted 12 November 2012 - 02:41 PM

In New York State, this would not arise to the level of defamation of character and would not constitute harassment. Unfortunately, in most States an employer is within his or her rights to terminate an employee for discipline on a hunch or even when he or she is complete wrong about the actions leading up to the discipline.

www.QueensEmploymentAttorney.com

#3 Guest_FindLaw_Amir_*

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 12:59 PM

. My question is this; is this defamation of character?


To learn more about this subject matter, you may wish to read Defamation Law: The Basics as a good resource.

#4 Fallen

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 01:49 PM

I'm afraid an employer isn't required to have proof, and your post's details don't suggest anything at all along the lines of defamation.

"... my co-worker began to state that he wasn’t and we have a mess up behind the bar of alcohol but it is still sitting there, I stood dumbfounded and quite honestly livid."

I gather what you've said here has meaning for you, but you aren't really making it clear to the reader. Anyway, no matter. :)

It isn't unlawful for someone to call a worker a stupid ass or to be rude, I'm afraid, and that isn't harassment. An employer is free to accuse you of drinking on the job (and being mistaken). That's not unlawful, and being mistaken isn't defamation. It's a bad way to run a business, but it isn't unlawful.

A boss is free to talk with something like this with whomever he pleases.


I'm afraid while what you describe may not be "right"/fair, it's not unlawful.

I'd file and fight for unemployment benefits, but that's the only recourse I see here.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)


#5 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:23 PM

My question is this; is this defamation of character?


You did not say in what state this occurred, and that matters because most of the law on defamation is state law. That said, the basic requirement for a defamation claim is that the defendant must have communicated a false assertion of FACT about you others that harmed your reputation. Thus, true statements and statements of opinion are not defamatory. In most cases, you must have suffered some harm the law recognizes to get anything in a defamation lawsuit, e.g. some kind of financial harm.

Applying those principles, the statements like "ya'll are a bunch of stupid asses" are not defamatory because they are statements of opinion, not an assertion of fact. The statement to you that the manager had seen you drinking alcohol is not defamatory because the statements must be made to persons OTHER than you to be defamatory. The statements by the manager to other employees that he'd seen you drinking at the bar, if not true, would be defamatory but you have the problem that you suffered no legally recognized damages from it.


Is him calling me a "stupid ass" in front of a customer Harassment?


It is not "harassment" as that term is used in the law. It is rude and unprofessional, but it was not illegal.

#6 Tax_Counsel

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Posted 15 November 2012 - 02:27 PM

I'd file and fight for unemployment benefits, but that's the only recourse I see here.


Based on what? The OP did not say he was fired — only that he was suspended for some unknown period of time. It is also unknown if the suspension is paid or unpaid. Lacking the the details of the suspension and knowing what state's law applies, it's impossible to make an informed conclusion whether the OP would qualify for benefits. So, how you conclude that the OP has a recourse for unemployment benefits based on insufficient information is beyond me.




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