Defining Defamation of Character in the Workplace
Criticisms and rude words in the workplace can result in a lot of hurt feelings and pride. As with most emotionally charged situations, it can sometimes be challenging to know whether it is worth taking legal action. In this article, we will demystify the ins and outs of defamation of character in the workplace and what you can do when your reputation is in danger.
What is Workplace Defamation of Character?
Workplace-related defamation of character is a legal issue that involves spoken or written false statements about a coworker that puts the employee’s job in danger. This includes all employees whether currently or previously employed. The most common scenario where employment-related defamation of character happens is during reference checks when hiring. There are two forms of defamation:
- Libel is written defamation and has more incrementing damages because the defamatory statements can have more permanence.
- Slander is spoken defamation — online defamation such as social media posts are sometimes considered slanderous due to their ephemeral nature.
Proving Defamation of Character in the Workplace
In defamation of character lawsuits, the burden of proof lies in the plaintiff. For your defamation claim to hold in court, you need to be able to show that the four important elements are present. These include the following:
|An employer or a coworker made a false statement.||A plaintiff must be able to prove that the defamatory statement is false and must show a statement of facts that would demonstrate their falsity.|
|The false statement was published.||By “published”, this means that the defamatory statement was read, watched, heard, or spoken to a third party.|
|The coworker or employer was at fault.||This can be proven by demonstrating that the defendant has knowledge that the statement was false but disregarded its falsity.|
|The false statement caused harm to the employee’s reputation.||The plaintiff must be able to prove that the damages are a direct result of the employer’s or coworker’s false statements.|
Examples of Defamation of Character in the Workplace
Defamation can happen in many situations when it comes to the workplace. When looking into a defamation claim, the law will consider less of who made the statement and more of the degree of truthfulness and the severity of damages it caused. Some examples of employment-related defamation are as follows:
- A former employer lying about the candidate in the employment reference form causing the candidate to lose the position to another.
- A coworker making false statements about an employee resulting in a hostile work environment.
- A coworker told the supervisor that the recently hired employee lied on his/her job application and it resulted in several weeks of investigation without pay.
- An employee’s ex-spouse telling a prospective employer that he/she is not trustworthy, resulting in the employer hiring another candidate.
Should You Write a Defamation Cease and Desist Letter?
If you or someone you know has become a victim of defamation, the best first step to take to trigger a legal procedure is to draw up a defamation cease and desist letter. It is a written document that serves as a courtesy to the recipient and requests the recipient to stop engaging in injurious behavior. The cease and desist letter is different from a cease and desist order where the order has legal weight and can be legally enforced by the court. When you decide to draft a defamation cease and desist letter there are some considerations to take. These are as follows:
- Watch the tone of the letter so that it is not too aggressive but not too soft either.
- Avoid making empty threats that you are not able to follow through.
- Consider the service delivery and the receiving period when setting your response deadline.
- Have a clear reason for sending the cease and desist letter.
- Use clear language and support your cease and desist letter with case laws and legal references.
DoNotPay Can Draw Up A Defamation Cease and Desist Letter for You in Minutes!
The easiest way to draw up a defamation cease and desist letter is to make use of online templates that you can simply download and fill in. However, to ensure the technical accuracy and effectiveness of the letter, you need to have a legal expert review it for you. Take note that this expertise also comes with exorbitant costs. That is where DoNotPay can help. Our lawyer in an app can help you draw up a defamation cease and desist letter without the need to worry about expensive fees. With our app, all you have to do is:
1. Search Defamation on DoNotPay.
2. Tell us about your situation, including whether the statements were libel or slander, listing the statements that were made, explaining why they are false or misleading, and what consequences you have suffered as a result.
3. Based on your location, DoNotPay will generate a formal demand letter on your behalf with the most relevant state legislation regarding defamation.
That’s it! Your letter can be sent in a few minutes.
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