Can Your Employer Terminate You Based on False Allegations?

People are fired for many reasons– including missing too much time from work, to messing up a deal, or failing to respond to client requests. However, if you’ve been fired because of a false allegation, it makes good sense that you would be upset. Anyone would be bothered by being dismissed for something that they didn’t do, especially if they think that the employer didn’t fully investigate the matter. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can sue your former employer for wrongful termination. Read on to learn more about false allegations in this context.

At-Will Employment

In New York, most employment is “at-will,” which means that your employer can let you go for almost any reason. There are exceptions to this rule. One very notable exception is that your employer can’t discriminate against you on the basis of a protected class, including age, race, religion, disability, national origin, or sex and they can’t retaliate against you for reporting discrimination or reporting unsafe working conditions. Unfortunately, terminating an employee based on a false allegation is not an exception at at-will employment.

Reasons for False Allegations in the Workplace

The sad reality is that false accusations are common happenings in almost any employment setting. Whether they are based on malicious co-workers with an axe to grind or the result of poor communication and misunderstandings, the results can be devastating. It can lead to a bad reputation and ultimately, your firing. 

For instance, if a colleague accuses you of misconduct, your employer can terminate you based on the allegation, even if it isn’t true. This is especially problematic because you may be targeted based on an illegal reason like age discrimination. Your employer wants to get rid of you due to your advancing age, but they make up a false accusation about you (that you stole from the company) to cover up their true intentions. 

False Allegations and Defamation

The issue is whether a false allegation is considered defamation. You’re a victim of defamation in the workplace when someone makes a false statement about you to a third party and that false statement damages your career or reputation. There are barriers to establishing a false accusation as defamation. 

First, you may know that the allegation is false, but can you prove it. Mere opinion isn’t considered defamation. Additionally, false statements may be privileged if they are made within the regular course of business. This means that if your supervisor’s or coworker’s false allegation against you was made within the company, it likely would not be considered defamation. 

Dealing with Wrongful Termination? Discuss with an Experienced New York Employment Attorney

False allegations are unfair especially if you’ve been fired because of it. If you think that you’ve been wrongfully terminated, then you will want to act in your best interests and plan out your options with an experienced employment law attorney. The skilled New York employment lawyers at MOWK Law can evaluate your case and will let you know how to proceed. Contact us for more information.