John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Rare defamation suit filed after Minnesota nurse's firing

All employees are afforded certain rights. This means that when an employee believes that these rights are not upheld, action could be taken to seek legal recourses for these violations. Whether it is a state or federal regulation violation, employees should be aware of their rights following any type of event or incident in the workplace.

According to recent reports, a Minnesota nurse who lost her job after being accused of stealing drugs from her place of work has sued both her former employer and two of her former colleagues. The woman was charged with multiple felonies after colleagues identified her as a person on video who was trying to take painkillers from the facility. A few months after they were filed, the prosecutor dismissed the charges, saying that the woman had presented credible evidence of an alibi.

Also, before identifying the woman, one of her former colleagues had accused another person who was quickly ruled out. This colleague only identified the woman after the angle on the camera was shifted, and another person on the camera, a male, was never identified.

The woman has now filed legal claims for defamation and negligence against both her former colleagues and her former employer, saying that the false allegation cost her both her job and her livelihood. She claims she has found it difficult to find other work as a nurse in light of the allegations made against her. She also said that the allegations against her were repeated to others in her community, which damaged her reputation.

The lawsuit is somewhat unusual in that, generally speaking, people have the right to report possible crimes to authorities, even if it turns out the report is mistaken. However, the report does have to be in good faith and people need at least probable cause before making the report.

The story illustrates that, even if discharged, employees in Minnesota have a right to their good name. Granted that not all cases are as extreme as the one here, but employers must be careful what they share about the employees and former employees, even if they wound up letting an employee go. An employee who feels his or her company has unlawfully damaged his or her reputation may have legal options.

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