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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.


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