One of the most frustrating things that can happen at work is being falsely accused for some type of violation or even worse – a crime such as theft, fraud, etc… – and being fired as a result. You may feel that you have been framed and you can do nothing about proving that you haven’t done anything wrong. However, in most cases, if you are an at-will employee, this type of termination would not be consider unlawful, however unfair it might seem. There are a few exception to this, most of which fall into two categories.
- There is specific evidence that the real reason for termination is discriminatory or retaliatory, i.e. due to your age, disability, race, sexual orientation, filing a workers comp claim, or making certain protected complaints or disclosures. Of course, simple having a disability, or being of a particular race or age doesn’t prove that that’s the reason you were false accused of something. There has to be evidence that links the employer’s motive to terminate you with discrimination or retaliation. These can be e-mails, text messages, social media postings containing statements by the decision makers that they had it out for you due to a discriminatory reason, or witnesses who overheard conversations by managers suggesting that the true reason for your termination was discriminatory.
- The employer defamed you by accusing you of fraud, theft or other crimes and stating those accusations orally or in writing to people outside of this employer (i.e. to potential employers, customers, etc…). Or, the false accusations about you were made internally only, but there is specific evidence that you were accused for improper reason, i.e. the manager who accused you had it out for you due to prior history of conflicts between the two of you.