Can an employer discuss prior accusations against me in front of a new accuser?

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Can an employer discuss prior accusations against me in front of a new accuser?

Years ago, a coworker accused me of creating a hostile environment. An
investigation was conducted. I was not disciplined. The coworker continued to
work with me without incident before leaving to go back to school. Recently,
another coworker has accused me of creating a hostile environment. Our boss
called both of us into their office to discuss the situation. During the
discussion, our boss brought up the old accusation and also discussed an ‘off-
the-record’ accusation another former coworker made against me.

Asked on May 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Legally, yes, as long as it is truthful (whether or not you were disciplined): there is no law preventing anyone, employer or otherwise, from discussing old accusations in front of third parties, including other employees, unless there was some sort of a confidentiality agreement which is being violated by the disclosure. (If there was such an agreement, you can sue to enforce it.)
If the old acussations can be shown to be untrue, then the employer may be defaming you: defamation is the making of untrue statements of fact to other people about you, which statements damage your reputation or cause you some other loss or damage. But only factually untrue statements may be defamation; true ones, no matter how hurtful to you, are not. So if, say, two years ago, John Doe accused you of creating a hostile environment, it is not defamation to say to new employee Bob Roe that "Two years ago, John Doe made a hostile environment accusation" against you, because that is true.
If you *are* defamed, you may wish to speak to a personal injury attorney about whether it is worth suing.


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