Can I sue a co-worker for slander?

UPDATED: Aug 25, 2011

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Can I sue a co-worker for slander?

A co-worker went to my boss and said I was trying to buying drugs on company time. This is not true. The co-worker said a third party (a customer of mine) told him that I was trying to buy his oxycontin from him. This co-worker has a grudge against me because of a demotion he received; he blames me for it. Also, the same customer involved is involved in a dog bite case with me; his dog bit me at his home while I was on the job.

Asked on August 25, 2011 Maine


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the co-worker and the customer for defamation.  Slander is spoken defamation.  Defamation is a false statement made with knowledge of its falsity communicated to a third party, and the false statement is injurious to your reputation.

The customer's statement was defamatory and was communicated to a third person, the co-worker. The customer is liable for defamation.  The co-worker is liable for defamation because one is liable for defamation for repeating a defamatory statement which occurred when co-worker made the statement to your boss.

Since the defamatory statement imputes characteristics incompatible with your profession, you can recover general damages for slander in this case.   General damages consist of a monetary amount to compensate you for the injury to your reputation and include items such as mental distress, physical illness, medical expense, and loss of friends and associates resulting from the defamation.

You would file one lawsuit for defamation naming both the customer and co-worker as defendants.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.   

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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