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What is considered defamation in the workplace?

Employees in New York and other states expect the workplace to be a safe and fairly enjoyable environment. While laws outlining an employee's rights help protect this expectation. it still is not always realized. While most think about harassment and outright discrimination when employee mistreatment is discussed, this circumstance encompasses a broad range of situations. One of these includes false statements that harm the character and reputation of an employee, which is referred to as defamation.

What is considered defamation in the workplace? Defamation could occur in various scenarios; however, it is commonly described as occurring when detrimental statements are made about an employee's reputation. In order for a statement to be considered defamation it must be false. In this respect, however, it should be noted that a mere opinion does not constitute defamation. Additionally, the statement must be made to another person or group of people that does not include the target.

Defamatory statements have the potential to damage the reputation of the target employee; thus, he or she has the ability and right to file an action for redress.. And with regards to employees suffering from a defamatory statement from a former or current employer or co-worker, an employee has every right to protect his or her personal interests by proving that these statements were done just to defame the target.

Defamation in the workplace could occur at any point of employment. This means it could happen after termination, which most often occurs in slander or spoken statements. It could also occur during employment, which could be either verbal or written while the employee is still working. If a statement was said or written with the intent of causing harm, this is often proof of defamation and an employee could file a civil action.

Employment disputes can come is all shapes and sizes, and they could impact employees in a wide variety of ways. Therefore, it is important for employees to become fully aware of their situation and what rights they have to protect their interests.

Source:, "The Serious Issues of Defamation of Character in the Workplace," Charlie S., Sept. 6, 2016

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