Ask the Lawyer received the following question (paraphrased for easier reading and clarity) from a reader on a legal matter that might be of interest to the entire audience.
An employee I supervise filed charges of sexual harassment and hostile work environment. The agency conducted a fact-finding investigation and the employee, myself and several other employees the employee identified were interviewed and had to sign affidavits.
The agency head met with me last week and said there was no evidence or proof otherwise of any of the charges, and that a formal letter closing the case would be issued.
Because of the false and malicious allegations, I was under extreme mental duress and did not apply for a local opportunity that I was well-qualified for. In addition, because higher level management officials had to be notified, and most employees at the local level were aware of the charges, my reputation was damaged.
Can I sue the employee and the agency for defamation of character, false and malicious claim and extreme mental anguish?
No. The employee’s filing of a claim would most likely be found to be within the scope of the employee’s job and the employee is thus immune from a lawsuit. The agency also cannot be sued on the grounds you state.
Bill Bransford is managing partner of Shaw Bransford & Roth PC.
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