What can be done if a co-worker discloses to your workplace that you are an alcoholic?

UPDATED: Oct 4, 2010

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What can be done if a co-worker discloses to your workplace that you are an alcoholic?

I called a co-worker on her personal cell phone 4 times 1 night when I was intoxicated; I’m an alcoholic. No one at work was aware of my alcoholism until she shared information about the phone calls. I did not get fired but I suffered a lot of embarrassment, shame, guilt and depression over this. Is this defamation of character?

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Personal Injury, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

You say that you are in fact an alcoholic: then it's not defamation, since defamation is the public making of a false factual statement. If the statement is true, then it's not defamation.

It would also not be invasion of privacy, since (1) she had no duty to you to keep information confidential and (2) she did not invade your privacy to determine the inforation--she called her and voluntarily shared it with her (in essence).

In short, even though what she did was probably inappropriate, inappropriate does not mean illegal or that she is liable for this. This is probably a case where you do not have any recourse for her actions. The best you *might* be able to do is to speak to her supervisor(s) or HR about her actions, if you feel that what she did was unprofessional or breached some workplace policies.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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