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Workplace Defamation

The Law Office of Rob Wiley, P.C., represents employees in defamation lawsuits for false statements made by employers and coworkers. If you believe you have been subjected to defamation concerning your employment, please contact us.  

Texas Laws about Workplace Defamation

Defamation is a false statement made about someone. Libel is the type of defamation that occurs when the statement is in writing. Slander is the type of defamation that occurs when the statement is oral.

Under Texas law, bringing an action for defamation has several requirements.  First, the statement must be unequivocally false. If there are different ways to interpret the statement, one of which could be true, then the statement is not legally defamation.  

Further, the more a statement involves "moral turpitude," the stronger a defamation case will be. A statement that someone is a bad employee, was late to work, failed to sell enough widgets, and so on is not the sort of false statement that indicates bad moral character. On the other hand, a statement that an employee stole money, sexually harassed another worker, or tells lies can cause lasting damage to a worker's character.

In Texas, there is an additional element to prove defamation: malice. It is not enough that an employer makes a false and hurtful statement about an employee's character the employer must have done it with malice. To prove malice, you should be able to show anger, cruelty, or other facts that indicate that the employer was truly out to get you. Employers often defend themselves against accusations of malice by claiming they were exercising business judgment, made a mistake, or believed that they were acting in good faith. Finally, an employee must be able to show harm and damages arising from the defamatory statement. Hurt feelings probably are insufficient to show harms and damages. However, demotion, termination, or failure to be hired at a new job can cause significant lost wages and other economic damages.

When is the Employer Liable?

When a supervisor or coworker makes a defamatory statement about you, it is important to think about who can be held liable. Obviously, because a company has a better ability to pay a large damage award, most employees will want to sue their employer rather than a coworker or supervisor.

An employer accused of defamation will likely claim that, even if defamation occurred, it is not the employer's responsibility. Rather, the employer will argue that the coworker or supervisor who made the defamatory statement is solely liable and that the employer has no responsibility.

On the other hand, if a supervisor makes a defamatory statement, you complain about it to the company, and the company takes no action, the company will generally be liable. The key is that for the employer to be liable, the defamatory statement must have been made by employees or agents of the company within the course and scope of their employment. In other words, the defamation must go beyond simply an individual worker making a statement, but it somehow must be attributed to the employer.

If in fact an employer is not liable for defamation, and only the coworker or supervisor can be sued, it is hard to justify legal action based on money alone. Few individuals have an ability to pay a judgment in this situation, so the most important thing to get may be "injunctive relief." Injunctive relief would be an order from a court preventing the coworker or supervisor from continuing to make defamatory statements. If a court issues an injunction against a coworker or supervisor, and that person violates the order, a court could impose money fines or even jail time.

Defamation of the Internet

The Internet has greatly increased our ability to communicate, and it has also increased the ability to defame people in hurtful ways. This can be particularly harmful to an employee because everyone can see it, and it can also be posted anonymously.

Often, websites will not remove defamatory statements. In fact, a federal law promoting free speech puts the burden of removing an offensive post on the user/poster, rather than the host website (such as Facebook).

To get defamation removed from a website, often you must first take legal action against the poster. If the poster's identity cannot be confirmed, then a subpoena or other legal action towards the Internet provider is required. Unfortunately, when the identity of the poster is not known, these actions can be very expensive.

Contact a Workplace Defamation Lawyer

The Law Office of Rob Wiley, P.C., represents employees who are victims of workplace defamation, slander, and libel. If you believe that you have experienced workplace defamation, please contact us.
Client Reviews
I would recommend the Law Office of Rob WIley, P.C. to anybody needing assistance with employment rights. They did an incredible job of handling my case professionally and in a very resonable time frame. In my initial consultation with Rob Wiley I was given a very straight forward analysis of my claims after which Fadi Yousef was the attorney assigned to my case. Working with Fadi was the best. He showed care and a true concern for the direction and result of my lawsuit. Fadi was always available and was in constant communication with me throughout. I thank Fadi Yousef, Rob Wiley and his team for doing a phenomenal job, they were an absolute pleasure to work with. R.G.
Rasha, Eric and Rob did it again a Second time around! I'll admit, they are truly the BEST employment lawyers out here in the Metroplex! Not only they won a case against my previous employer, they also won my unemployment insurance (UI) case as well! It is such a relief and a huge burden off my shoulders about not worrying how I'm going to pay my bills now and provide food for my family. I can't say enough how awesome they are and how far they go to make sure you are taken well care of. Thank you so much Rasha, Eric and Rob for all that you did for me! J.T.
Rasha Zeyadeh and Rob Wiley provided a very professional and comfortable experience. My case was tough being in Texas, but, Rasha worked very closely with me to get the best result possible. She was extremely open to listening to my concerns and suggestions, while using her expertise to guide me to the best result in my case. I would definitely recommend Rasha and Rob Wiley if you are in need of their type of service. I will use them again if needed! K.G.