Defamation is defined as purposeful and false damage to one’s reputation. What many do not know is that defamation can occur in the workplace and in this era of the coronavirus pandemic, it is becoming increasingly common. As we touched on in a previous post, common law defamation or invasion of privacy claims can come into play when an employee is falsely identified as having coronavirus.
A workplace defamation lawsuit enables a current or former employee to recover for injury to his or her reputation resulting from the false communications the employer made about them to other individuals.
Defamation can be spoken (slander) or written (libel). Being the victim of workplace defamation can threaten your ability to earn an income with your current or a future employer. In the employment context, slander may appear in a phone call for a job reference and libel may be found in an email by a manager to employees stating a false reason for the termination of an employee (such as a coronavirus diagnosis).
Bringing a Defamation Claim
If your employer knowingly shared that you had coronavirus, when you did not, you may be able to bring a legal claim for defamation. In order to prove that you were defamed, you must show:
(1) the employer made a false statement of fact about an employee,
(2) the statement was published (i.e., it was spoken or emailed to somebody else),
(3) the employer knew or should have known of the falsity of the statement,
(4) the statement wasn’t privileged, and
(5) the employee suffered actual harm because of the statement.
In this context, harm could include financial consequences resulting from the defamatory statement, such as losing your job or being forced to take unlawful time off. Defamation is a personal injury and you may be able to recover damages for your financial losses and your emotional distress.
For a no obligation consultation about your potential workplace defamation case, contact the experienced employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Eric A. Boyajian today.