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Defamation, Libel, and Slander


Defamation, Libel, and Slander in the Workplace

Employment Discrimination Lawyers Protecting Employees Against Employers Spreading False Statements for Over 25 Years

Defamation, libel, and slander occur when a person makes patently false statements about another person. When it comes to employment, it is perfectly legal for an employer to provide a reference about your work product to a potential new employer. It is legal for this answer to be truthful and detailed. However, it is not legal for this information to be blatantly false with the intention to prevent you from getting the job.

When your employer spreads false statements in an act of defamation, libel, or slander, you have the right to fight back against the behavior. You have the right to stand up for yourself. You deserve an attorney who will advocate for you and negotiate for your rights on your behalf.

What Is the Difference Between Defamation, Libel, and Slander?

Defamation can be libel or slander. Defamation is when an employer intentionally makes false statements about a current or past employee to harm the employee.

Libel is when these false statements are written. For instance, an email laced with lies about you as an employee may be libel.

Slander, on the other hand, is a false verbal statement. For instance, if your past employer called your new employer and provided a false account of your work product, this may be slander.

To determine whether your case relates to libel or slander, contact an employment lawyer. Your lawyer can listen to your claim’s details and help you develop your complaint under the laws provided.

How Can I Prove Defamation from My Employer?

Defamation is not easy to prove. However, the laws have given guidelines regarding defamation. You must be able to prove all the following to prove your case:

  1. Your employer made a false statement of fact about you.
  2. The statement was said or written to someone else (it was made public).
  3. Your employer knew or should have known the statement was false.
  4. The statement was not privileged.
  5. You suffered harm as a result of this false statement.

The statement must be false and a statement of fact. An opinion or a true statement cannot be cause for defamation. An employer is permitted to say something true or provide what is clearly an opinion, even if it prevents you from getting a job.

Another element is that the employer must not believe the statement is true. He could make a false statement but truly believe it is true. If that is the case, it is unlikely you will have a defamation claim.

What Are Some Examples of Defamation at Work?

Defamation of character can appear in several different forms. Some examples of defamation may include the following:

  • Your boss tells your potential new employer that you stole money from the company.
  • Your employer tells your new boss that you sexually harassed many employees in the office, resulting in you getting fired from work. You quit your job because you wanted more money.
  • Your last boss tells other business owners that you are a liability and cost the firm several clients. Your boss knows you just started your own consulting firm and are trying to market to local businesses.
  • Your supervisor emails your CEO to tell him that you are constantly on the phone on personal calls and never respond to clients when needed. He knows you are applying for a promotion within the company. He does not want you to get the promotion because he likes having you on his team.

What Is a Defense to Defamation?

There are two types of defenses to defamation:

  1. Absolute privilege. This defense applies when the statement relates to a legal proceeding, for government officials acting in accordance with their employment, or a compelled publication or broadcast.
  2. Qualified privilege. This defense takes into account good-faith statements. If the statement is made in good faith and no harm was intended, this defense can apply.

When you work with a dedicated employment lawyer, they will anticipate these defenses from your employer. They will work with you to help ensure they can fight back against these defenses and help your case move forward.

What Is Defamation Per Se?

Defamation per se occurs when a false statement is made, and it can be assumed it will cause harm, even if it does not. You can consider the following statements defamation per se:

  • Your boss tells your potential new employer that you do not have the degree you claim to have. Your new employer still offers you the position.
  • Your past employer claims you did not work for them even though they did. Your new employer asks for additional evidence of employment, which you easily supply.
  • Your coworker falsely claimed you raped them. The investigation shows this to be false. You receive no backlash.
  • Your supervisor stated you stole money from the company. The HR manager investigates and finds this is false. You are not fired.
  • Your manager said that you were convicted of driving under the influence while driving on company time. Your new employer runs a criminal record and driving record test. Both are clear, and you get the job.

Can an Employer Defame an Employee in a Performance Review?

A performance review is mostly opinion. In it, an employer will state their opinion of your demeanor at work, your work product, and the ability to produce as expected. Most of the time, these statements are not defamatory because they are stated as an opinion and made in good faith.

However, if an employer makes a statement of fact on your review intended to cause harm, it may be a case of defamation. An employer who falsely claims you stole, lied, were completely incompetent, or harmed the company in any illegal way can be trying to give cause to get you fired from work or demoted in an act of retaliation. Yet, if these statements are false, you may have a libel case.

How Can You File a Claim for Defamation in the Workplace?

You can file a defamation of character lawsuit in state courts. State laws prohibit defamation at work and beyond. Because the laws vary by state, employees may have a time limit of 180 days to several years to file their claims.

You should consult an employment attorney well-versed in defamation at work lawsuits to help you determine how, where, and when to file your lawsuit for defamation, libel, or slander in the workplace.

How Can an Employment Lawyer Help You Defend Your Rights Against Defamation at Work?

Defamation at work can ruin your career. As a result, your emotions can get the best of you. You may be angry, worried, and devastated as the result of these actions. You need an attorney who can be your voice of reason while defending your rights in the workplace.

Your employment lawyer can help you ensure you file the appropriate claim within the time limit provided by law. They can help negotiate a settlement for your claim from the moment you decide to seek justice. They can advocate for you and your rights in the workplace. They can help through every turn, even if your case goes to trial.

Contact Our Experienced Employment Attorneys for Your Free Consultation

No one should be the subject of lies that affect their reputation and ability to work. If you are the victim of defamation in the workplace, the experienced employment attorneys at the Derek Smith Law Group can help.

Did Your Employer Retaliate Against You by Issuing False Statements to a Potential New Employer? Do You Want to Know More About Your Rights Against Defamation in the Workplace? Please Call Us at 800.807.2209 or Email for Answers.

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