My Boss Lied And Said I Had Stolen! Slander?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about slander:

Recently at my job my General Manager told all my co- workers that he had set me up and caught me stealing from them. I did not and he has no proof. Do I have a case for Slander?

Signed, Not A Thief

Dear Not A Thief:

We’re not attorneys and can’t provide legal advice, so you may want to contact an attorney. However, I doubt that you have the basis for a civil claim against your boss, but I might be wrong. You could ask for a free phone consultation with an attorney or an assistant and find out where you stand with this.

There are several things to consider:

1. Did you hear the boss say all of those things or did someone tell you? You would have to have at least a few people be willing to testify to what he said and how he said it. For all you know, that is not exactly what he said at all. Before you believe it, talk to him about it.

2. SOMEONE is stealing I presume. So, it is either you or one of the others. If he has no proof that you stole anything, he won’t be able to produce it. But, if he wants to fire you anyway, he can–even if he has no proof. There is no requirement for an employer to keep an employee (unless there is a contract or other legal agreement about employment), especially if there are doubts about honesty. If you have a way to show that you did not or could take things, present that information to him. If you think you know who DID take things, you had better let him know about it.

3. Why not go to your boss and ask him what he meant, what proof he has, and what you can do to convince him that he was wrong? Maybe just a sincere conversation in which you tell him how hurt and upset you were at his remarks, will be enough to clear the air and get you an apology.It doesn’t sound as though you have a very good relationship with your boss or this would not even be a suspicion. So, make it a priority to not only keep your job and clear your name but also to be the kind of person and employee where no one would ever, ever think you would take something. That can be accomplished by being excellent at your work, your behavior and the things you say in general. All of those create your reputation.

4. If you find out that your manager lied or said the things he said to a number of people, even if he thinks they are the truth, consider going to his boss or to HR, if your business is that size. Make a formal complaint about the statement and how it has had a negative effect on you. Give them the names of one or two people who heard it and ask for their assistance. They may not want to be involved in clearing your name, but they should be concerned about such loose and harmful talk by a GM.

I hope you are able to talk to your boss and find out what really happened and how you and he can rebuild your working relationship. I can imagine how upsetting it is and know you will feel better when you can move forward instead of being angry and worrying about it. Tell people who talk to you about what he said to support you when he or others makes statements of that kind.If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.