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

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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