Employees depend on their professional reputations. It is their currency and the way that they earn a living and advance their career. There is a fine line between an employer giving their opinion of a current or former employer and committing defamation. If they cross the line, they may be liable to the employee in a lawsuit.
In general, defamation is defined as making a statement that damages a person’s reputation. However, not everything negative that an employer says would be considered defamation. The statements must be false and malicious and communicated through written or spoken word.
Usually, workplace defamation becomes an issue when a former employer is asked to give a reference or verify someone’s employment. In this case, the employer must be very careful with what they say. Many employers will decline to speak substantively about the employee if they do not have anything positive to say because of the risk involved. Otherwise, the employer must be extremely cautious to ensure that what they are saying is completely true. If not, they can be sued if their statement has harmed the employee’s ability to earn a living or get a new job. It does not matter whether the statement was given in a formal setting or more informally.
In addition, the employer must be very careful in how they treat current employees. If they take action based on speculation or unproven claims that harm an employee, they can be sued for defamation. However, employers can defend themselves when the statement that they made was true.
If you have been damaged by statements that your employer has made, you can file a lawsuit for financial compensation. Contact the attorneys at Martin & Bontrager online or call us at 323.940.1700 to stand up for your rights.