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What Is Workplace Slander?

Workplace gossip that is presented as fact and hurts someone's reputation can be considered defamation of character.
Workplace slander often refers to gossip.
Workplace slander may cause harm to a person's employment.
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  • Written By: Alicia Sparks
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2014
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Generally, workplace slander is defined as a type of defamation of character that takes place in or is related to the workplace and, more often than not, causes harm to the person’s employment. Slander is the verbal counterpart to libel, which means slander in the workplace is the spoken way of defaming one’s character, whereas workplace libel is the written way. Usually, for slander in the workplace to be considered defamation, it must be presented as fact. Therefore, not all slander in the workplace is actually considered workplace slander, in the legal sense, and can be better categorized as gossip. Defamation, slander, and libel laws as they relate to the workplace vary by location and are best approached with the help of an attorney experienced with slander cases in that area.

For certain types of slander to be considered workplace slander, they must cause serious workplace defamation. This means the slander must cause serious damage to the employee’s reputation and character, especially in a way that jeopardizes that person’s career. Usually, any kind of workplace defamation, slander or libel, must be presented as fact to be considered defamation in the legal sense. Common workplace gossip among employees usually is not considered slander in the sense that it could harm or jeopardize the employee’s career. Similarly, sharing petty rumors, jokes, or negative opinions about co-workers or employees typically is not considered workplace slander.

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Sometimes, what legally is not considered workplace slander might still be considered workplace harassment. Too, employees should keep in mind that even if the slander does not result in a damaged career, sometimes slander is so defamatory to the employee’s character or reputation that those who hear it cannot interpret it in any other way. Such situations can turn into legal workplace slander cases.

Workplace defamation, slander, and libel laws vary according to region. For example, in America the laws in one state might be different from the laws in another state. If an employee feels he has been the victim of any type of workplace defamation, he should seek legal advice from an attorney who has experience with that state’s workplace defamation laws. The lawyer will be able to advise what kinds of proof the plaintiff must provide for the case, which can include the intent of the slanderer and the harm sustained by the plaintiff, or employee. Of course, the attorney will help the employee prepare for any possible defenses by the plaintiff, which can include situations such as employer privilege and employee consent, being able to prove the statement was indeed a fact, or claiming the statement was an opinion of the speaker.

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anon948824
Post 6

I have been through continuous bullying at work. Example: I advised my supervisor I would be late due to my child and I got written up for being three minutes late. Then, I had lost my voice one day and the students couldn't understand what I was saying in lecture. She went and reported me rather than helping and I was taken out of lecture.

I was doing things that weren't at work and at a meeting I went to they talked about how good I was doing and brought up the co worker's name and what she said about me and I didn't make it. I need help on how to stop this person from ever doing another person like this again.

anon943818
Post 5

My boss, for reasons known only to him, decided he wanted to fire me. He even posted my job at the state employment job site, all the while denying it was my job.

The client I am contracted with caught wind that my boss was trying to fire me and intervened. When asked directly why I was being removed, the boss claimed that a person in another agency in the building (I contract at a state government agency) made a complaint against me. The client wanted to know who and what the complaint was, but my boss refused to divulge the information.

The client then informed him that by law, the complaints from the agency must follow procedure/chain of command. She also did an investigation and found that no one made any complaints about me in any way, shape or form. My boss backed down, and was informed by the client that I had done an exemplary job and that she preferred that I stay (I'm sure that dropping the contract was implied to my boss).

I found this out from the client after being called to the office and handed two write ups (one was torn up by my boss). I am still employed but I am constantly being nitpicked and threatened. Do I have any recourse?

anon350876
Post 4

@Anon0037: I have been harassed a lot for not belonging to the union at my job. Most recently, a woman who I have complained many times about for stealing my lunch out of the fridge, got together with another employee and a supervisor to tell the lie that I left early from work to "play computer" in the break room. This statement was false. I worked my scheduled shift, and did my work.

They went to the store manager and told her I bailed on the shift when the schedule plainly said I was to leave. I found out from the under supervisor they just wanted to make me look bad, and knew I was to be off. With the union these people get away with murder. Please help! This happens all the time. I am motivated and intelligent toenough do something. I spoke to my supervisor, and the woman is pulling the whole, he is "harassing me" for making an ordeal of this ongoing slander. I am willing to go to court because this woman in particular has hurt a lot of people. Please help!

anon348406
Post 3

@anon336766: It would be difficult to prove legal slander in your situation, since someone else would have to determine whether or not your co-worker's assessment was correct or not. It's not considered slander if it's true. Your new boss always has the option of taking a subordinate employee's opinion seriously or not. Ultimately, your boss made a decision to change your duties, not your co-worker's.

He or she didn't do you any favors, and most likely had an agenda of his or her own, but I don't personally believe it rises to actionable slander. I'm not a legal professional, however, so my opinion should not be taken as legal advice.

anon336766
Post 2

Is it slander if a co-worker goes to my new boss and tells her I was not qualified to hold my current position?

What's more, this co-worker has also commented to my new boss about my ability to supervise and as a consequence, my duties have been changed,

anon249720
Post 1

Worst work experience of a lifetime. My second week working for the hotel, my captain made statements which were unbelievable about he event director, who works in the same town, same branch, just another hotel where I worked long time ago and so did she.

Her statements were more like say something negative and she wouldn't give up with her horrible statements and then she would wait and look at me, hoping that I would say something negative about that person. I couldn't believe what I heard and I don't think she would make those statements if she hadn't been asked to do so or thought someone was listening, maybe her management. I have never found myself in such a stupid, game playing, childish situation.

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