Have you had a store cashier or manager publicly shame you or embarrass you in front of customers or employees? In some instances, accusatory and false statements made about you can be construed at Defamation of Character. There may be legal recourse and consequences for that individual making the claims.
The following post is to share an experience I had with an employee at Walgreens and how I handled it.
Disclosure: I am not an attorney and not licensed by the State of Washington to give legal advice, which is considered the practice of law. The legal information found in this post is what I have gathered from my own research and experience. If you need legal advice, then please contact an attorney.
April 2012 —
A little over a year ago, a friend of mine and I were shopping at Walgreens. As many, if not all, of you know: I have a source for coupon inserts and am able accumulate dozens to thousands of any given insert.
During this shopping trip, one of the managers was conversing with my friend and asked where we got all of these coupons. She replied that she sometimes goes to Starbucks and other coffee shops and scoop up inserts that people have left behind that eventually a barista may put in the recycle bins for other customers. We did not have any problems and I did not think anything of it at the time…
A few weeks later, I went back to the same store and ran into another manager and he told me that the other manager (I’ll reference him as “Bob” for the sake of anonymity) had been telling employees at that store that I steal newspapers from Starbucks.
At first I had no clue what he was talking about, but after a while, I realize that Bob had misconstrued what my friend had said. A few days later I spoke with the store manager to straighten things out and she assured me that she would sit down with Bob to let him know not to jump to conclusions or to spread unfounded rumors about me.
June 2013 —
I had not seen Bob for quite some time since he had transferred to another store; however, I ran into him when I was making my rounds for the VitaMelts deal (here) and Bayer Contour Next EZ deal.
To my surprise, when I asked for a manager to come when the cashier did not know how to adjust the value of the Bayer Contour Next EZ coupon down to $9.99 (the price of the item), Bob told me that he wasn’t going to accept any of my coupons from me and again cited his unfounded claim as justification.
He went so far as to tell the cashier, another employee, and likely customers that were in line or at the front of the store that overheard him that I steal coupons from Starbucks and not to accept them.
At this point, I was quite irked (late enough in the day that I was too tired to get angry) and left the store after trying to reach the district manager.
My Response —
Over the course of the next few days, I spoke with acquaintances in the legal profession, both the assistant manager and store manager of that store, and friends. After explaining the situation, all of them unanimously agreed that Bob was out of line.
I did research into the laws in the State of Washington and found that Bob had committed a tort (defamation per se) by imputing a criminal offense and broadcasting rumors about me which he likely knew to be false. I say “likely” because the store manager at the previous store told me that she talked to him and would have no reason to lie about it.
I wanted so badly to file a motion in court; however, both managers gave me their reassurance that they would talk to Bob so I decided that I the next best action would be to draft a Cease and Desist to let Bob know to halt spreading unfounded rumors about me or face legal action.
Here is the letter I drafted (edited a few parts out):
Walgreens Co., its directors, officers, agents, employees, and assigns (collectively, “Walgreens”) are hereby warned and notified to CEASE AND DESIST making false and defamatory statements regarding [me].
It has come to my attention that false, slanderous statements were made (and continue to be made) by “Bob.” “Bob” continues to spread unfounded and false implications to employees at his store that: [me] committed a criminal offense.
This is despite being put on notice both by [me] and a Walgreens store manager that the offending party’s statements are false, defamatory, constitutes interference with ongoing matters, and as such, are actionable under Washington State law.
Even after being given notification, the offending party has made no attempts to correct its malfeasance and has refused to stop this egregious conduct. Furthermore, the offending party has continued to make additional statements knowing they were false intending to harm [me]. Our state recognizes: falsely imputing a criminal offense as being defamation per se; and, such statements are assumed to harm, without further need to prove that harm.
If I am forced to commence a lawsuit against Walgreens in order to stop the continued false and defamatory statements, be advised that I will seek recovery of all attorneys’ fees and costs incurred herein as a result. While I certainly hope this is not necessary, I am prepared to pursue whatever avenues are necessary to stop the continued false and defamatory statements made against [me] by Walgreens.
Feel free to use this as a template, in part or in whole, if you ever need to use it!
If any of you, for whatever reason, go through anything similar, you should look at the laws that pertain to your state and look at your options. In many states, there is recourse and laws in place to make such behavior is not tolerated.