I was recently terminated from my job due to a sexual harrassment claim.

I am trying to find out what my rights are as the accused. I was never made aware of any such accusation against me prior to being terminated and was only made aware of it on the day of termination, and the only information i recieved was a verbal statement saying that they recieved a accusation and that i made a comment about whipped cream never allowed to see full accusation against me. Shouldnt i have rights so i can defend myself in what i feel is a false accusation?

3 answers  |  asked Jul 25, 2010 12:26 PM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (3)

Christopher Ezold
Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.

That being said, you generally do not have any 'due process' rights when an employer is investigating claims against you. Most states do not even allow claims against an employer if the investigation is negligent. You may, however, have claims against the complaining party for defamation or slander if the accusation is false, and against the employer if the employer repeats allegations it knows are false. Also, if the investigation is carried out in a reckless or willfully bad manner (i.e. more than mere negligence), you may have a claim. Depending on the facts, you may have claims for tortious interference with contract or invasion of privacy, although that is unlikely in most circumstances. Finally, if the investigation is a pretext for the real reason for your termination, you may also have a claim.

The biggest problem you have is that you have no infomation to work with; you will have to do some digging with friendly (former) co-workers to find out what went on.

If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or number.

/Christopher E. Ezold/
Chair of the Board,
Magellan Leadership Group

Nancy O'Mara Ezold, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Suite 501
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
(610) 660-5585

posted by Christopher Ezold  |  Jul 26, 2010 08:09 AM [EST]
Doris Dabrowski
If the accusation is false, you may have a claim for defamation against the person making derogatory statements against you.

If you have an employment contract that provides for some protections for the accused, you may have a claim against the employer for breach of contract.

I agree with George Barron's response. My comments suggest some additional issues to consider.

You should consult an attorney for a detailed assessment of the facts of your situation.

posted by Doris Dabrowski  |  Jul 26, 2010 07:18 AM [EST]
George Barron
In an employment setting you generally do not have a right to confront your accuser. It is usually not unlawful for an employer to fire you based upon an accusation of harassment. The employer does not have to prove that the harassment took place as accused. In fact, failing to address the accusation may expose the employer to a lawsuit from the alleged victim.

However, if you have reason to believe that the harassment accusation is not the real reason for firing you, you should contact an employment lawyer to discuss the matter further.

Please keep in mind that we have not met, I am not your lawyer, and I have provided this feedback in response to a very limited amount of information. You should consult with an employment lawyer to learn your rights.

posted by George Barron  |  Jul 25, 2010 2:36 PM [EST]

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