Defamation refers to the actions or statements a person makes that damages the character or reputation of another individual.
You suffered a work injury recently and the doctor recommended you to take some time off so that you can recover properly. You filed a claim for compensation with the help of your work injury lawyer and are now under treatment, trying to get back to your old life as soon as possible.
You phone one of your colleagues to find out what’s new at work. That’s when you hear: one of the employees have been making comments about your injury, saying that it was your fault that you got hurt, and tarnishing your reputation as a professional employee. You are angry and want to take action. So, you call your lawyer and ask him: can you advance a claim for defamation under your worker’s compensation claim?
What Is Workplace Defamation?
Defamation refers to the actions or statements a person makes that damages the character or reputation of another individual. There are two types of defamation: written, also known as libel and spoken, also known as slander.
Defamation in the workplace can affect an employee’s reputation, career, and character. However, not every joke or mean comment can be labeled as defamation. Here are some crucial distinctions to be made:
- Personal Opinions vs. Facts: Although not always positive or flattering, personal opinions aren’t defamation. Someone has to make a statement based on facts that you must then prove to be false to have a case.
- Rumors: While water cooler gossip can’t be considered defamation if the rumors create a hostile work environment, then it can be categorized as slander. Likewise, if the person spreading the rumor had any malicious intent and affected the victim’s reputation, then you may have a case.
- Performance Review: Let’s be honest: you probably expect a few harsh or constructive critiques during your performance review. But, if the employer is making statements that are exaggerated, in bad faith or without an actual factual basis, then they may be liable for defamation.
As you can see, not every negative comment a coworker or employee makes about you can be considered defamation. A few elements must be in place, such as someone making a defamatory statement about you that has no factual basis or was made with the intent of harming your reputation.
So, Do I Have a Case for Workers Compensation?
Defamation can affect not only a person’s reputation or career, but his mental health too. Seeing how the image you worked so hard to create and maintain is crumbling after a few fake allegations can really take an emotional toll.
Unfortunately, workers compensation insurance doesn’t cover defamation as it is not considered a physical injury. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t take action. A defamation attorney could help you here. So, get in touch with one as soon as possible so that you can put this negative episode behind and continue proving that you a professional.