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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    12

    Default Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    Hi, I am a registered nurse in the state of MD. I worked at a hospital where I was terminated due to a complaint letter written by a family member about me. I never was shown the letter but what I was told was in the letter ie. the allegations against me are untrue. The reason I believe the family member wrote the letter was because he was disgruntled about a hospital policy I was following during the discharge of the patient. He left the hospital in an angry rage and stated he was a healthcare executive and basically he would report me. I documented in the patient's medical record what had transpired and that I was following hospital policy. Then 2 weeks later after the letter was received I was terminated due to false allegations. To complicate matters I was only a contracted nurse working via a nursing agency therefore I was notified of everything via the agency and was unable to see the letter. The agency is working with me on resolving the issue but I have a few questions regarding the law. I want to know if I'm entitled to have a copy of that letter that had me terminated and I also want to know if it would be worth it to sue the person that wrote the false allegations about me. Any input would be helpful, thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,521

    Default Re: Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    A wrongful termination does not mean what most people think it means. It does not mean you were fired for something you didn't do; it means you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. That is not the case here. You may have been unfairly terminated, but you were not wrongfully terminated.

    No Federal and no Maryland law entitles you to a copy of the letter.

    Whether or not it would be worth suing the individual in question depends on whether or not you can prove (and the burden of proof would be on you) that the person who wrote the letter knowingly lied. If he honestly believed what he was saying, even if he was mistaken, you cannot sue. If he phrased it in the form of an opinion, you cannot sue. (Well, you can, but you won't win, and it's doubtful it it would even get to court.)

    Defamation does not occur just because something negative was said, even if there are repercussions. Defamation exists when an individual KNOWINGLY makes FALSE statements or makes statements without regard for whether it is true or not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,094

    Default Re: Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    cms1222,

    Your are an employee of the agency who provides staff to a client. You can terminate your temporary position (through the agency) with the client anytime for any reason. You probably don't have anything in your contract which requires you give notice of more than 24 hours.

    That's the benefit of temp agencies.

    The downside is you don't work for the client so anything said between the client and temp agency doesn't include you. Including what is said about you. That's why the agency probably doesn't have the letter or know the content of letter.

    Bottom line is you have no recourse against the client, the person who wrote the letter or your employer (the agency). I would bet that if there is any question about a letter it will disappear.

    If you intend to continue to work for the agency, I suggest you learn this trick- never be the bad guy. Say "I am just a temp here. Let me find someone who can answer that question" (give you permission, let you borrow that piece of equipment, etc. etc..)

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    Thank you for your input, you saved me a lot of time and money going through the legal process over this issue. Instead what I have done is I have written a letter to the president as did the family member telling my side of the story. I know this probably won't change anything regarding my position however it was therapeutic to write the letter as this event has been very stressful to me.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    38,867

    Default Re: Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    I would make an effort to make sure your employer (not the hospital but the placement agencey) has no problems with the situation. You must understand that a temp agency often has multiple contracts with any given client and they will protect their reputation with that client, even sometimes, at the inury of one of their own employees to keep their business relationship intact.

    While they do present such a front to the hospital (or whatever client it may be), that does not mean they accept things as they are given by the client. They want to keep doing business with that client though and will do many things to appease them.

    Make sure things are cool with your agency.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Ohio
    Posts
    1,094

    Default Re: Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    Quote Quoting cms1222
    View Post
    Thank you for your input, you saved me a lot of time and money going through the legal process over this issue. Instead what I have done is I have written a letter to the president as did the family member telling my side of the story. I know this probably won't change anything regarding my position however it was therapeutic to write the letter as this event has been very stressful to me.
    It would be unusual not to be upset in your situation. Ask the agency how this might affect you using them for a reference anytime in the future. If you have not been offered another postion since this job ended, ask if they can give you any information about why they haven't placed you.

    If you are new to agency work, make sure you have a back up for employment. It cannot hurt you to be registered with at least two agencies. You never have to provide any additional information about why you cannot accept an offer other than you are not available at this time.

    Best wishes.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    12

    Default Re: Wrongful Termination Due to Slander/Defamation of Character

    According to the conversations I had with the manager of the agency it seems that my relationship with them is stable. I have been with them for five years and have superb references from other previous employers. In fact the manager at the hospital where I was terminated asked the manager at the agency not to fire me as I was an excellent nurse and she felt I had done a good job while at the hospital. So since this incident the agency has scheduled me for working at another hospital which is what I'm doing. The agency has been very supportive of me even trying to schedule a meeting with the nursing director of the hospital which I doubt is going to happen but at least they have tried to clear my name with them which I'm sure is more than they have to do.

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