Employer defamation

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Employer defamation

I’ve been working with my company going on 3 years now and took a couple weeks off. When I came back to work, one of my employers had told some of the other employees that I was in rehab for drugs, which was completely false. I have never been in any trouble with breaking the law or using illegal narcotics/drugs whatsoever. Unbeknownst to me, all of my co-workers got wind of this and eventually it got back to me from a mutual friend of one of the workers. I tried to contact my HR department but to no avail. I now get accused of being on drugs everyday which is making it very difficult to do my job. Also, I volunteer my time in my community with coaching little kids football and have done so for 10 years. Rumors of this nature could possibly affect my coaching duties in the future. I just want things to go back to the way they were before everything was said and spread about me. Is there anything that I can do?

Asked on July 20, 2017 under Personal Injury, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You can sue *the person* who spread those false rumors for defamation. Defamtion is the making to other people of false factual statements about you (such as you were in drug rehab), which statements damage your reputation--therefore, what you describe appears to meet the requiements for actionable defamation. In a lawsuit, you can get compensation and/or an order that he/she stop doing this.
However, you can only sue the person defaming you, not the company. Spreading defamation about you is outside the scope of the person's employment, so the employer is not responsible or liable for it; they also do not have any legal duty to stop defamation against you--that is not part of an employer's legal obigations.


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