California Workplace Defamation
False rumors and lies about an employee don’t just hurt feelings. They can do real damage to a person’s career and reputation, causing them to lose the opportunity for promotions, new positions, and other career advancements. Workplace defamation is therefore given special consideration by the law. If your supervisor, employer, or even co-worker has spread false information about you that has damaged your career, you may be a defamation victim. The most important thing to note, however, is that truth is an absolute defense to a defamation claim.
Slander And Libel In The Workplace
Defamation is defined as any false statement of fact that damages the reputation or career of the subject of the defamatory statement. This includes both statements meant to evoke hatred or derision and statements meant to evoke ridicule. There are two types of workplace defamation: slander and libel. Slander is defamation spoken out loud to a third party. Libel is defamation written in any form and made public (or at least available to a third party).
What Kinds Of Statements Are Considered Workplace Defamation?
Any damaging false statement made in the workplace can be considered defamation, but it must be fact, not opinion. That means that a negative performance review doesn’t count, no matter how much you object to the opinion being expressed (unless objective facts are altered, such as, for example, a deliberate or knowing misrepresentation of a salesperson’s close rate). Things that can be considered workplace defamation include misrepresentations in job references, lies about the reasons for an employee’s dismissal, and even simply under- or over-reporting a person’s output at work.
It’s important to note that certain kinds of statements can’t be considered defamation even if later determined not to be substantiated. Reports of sexual harassment made to HR employees, for example, would be considered privileged communication in California, and the accused employee could not sue for defamation.
How An Employment Attorney Can Help You Fight Defamation
Although defamation may not always be easy to prove, it can have a devastating impact on the careers of victims. If you have had your reputation defamed at work, an employment attorney can help you clear your good name and collect damages for the harm done by your employer’s lies. Come talk to the employment lawyers at Wakeford Gelini right away to find out how we may be able to help. It’s important not to delay, because California law limits the amount of time you have to take legal action for defamation. Take the first step towards defending your reputation today.