Generally, workplace slander is defined as a type of defamation of character that takes place in or is related to the workplace and, more often than not, causes harm to the person’s employment. Slander is the verbal counterpart to libel, which means slander in the workplace is the spoken way of defaming one’s character, whereas workplace libel is the written way. Usually, for slander in the workplace to be considered defamation, it must be presented as fact. Therefore, not all slander in the workplace is actually considered workplace slander, in the legal sense, and can be better categorized as gossip. Defamation, slander, and libel laws as they relate to the workplace vary by location and are best approached with the help of an attorney experienced with slander cases in that area.
For certain types of slander to be considered workplace slander, they must cause serious workplace defamation. This means the slander must cause serious damage to the employee’s reputation and character, especially in a way that jeopardizes that person’s career. Usually, any kind of workplace defamation, slander or libel, must be presented as fact to be considered defamation in the legal sense. Common workplace gossip among employees usually is not considered slander in the sense that it could harm or jeopardize the employee’s career. Similarly, sharing petty rumors, jokes, or negative opinions about co-workers or employees typically is not considered workplace slander.
Sometimes, what legally is not considered workplace slander might still be considered workplace harassment. Too, employees should keep in mind that even if the slander does not result in a damaged career, sometimes slander is so defamatory to the employee’s character or reputation that those who hear it cannot interpret it in any other way. Such situations can turn into legal workplace slander cases.
Workplace defamation, slander, and libel laws vary according to region. For example, in America the laws in one state might be different from the laws in another state. If an employee feels he has been the victim of any type of workplace defamation, he should seek legal advice from an attorney who has experience with that state’s workplace defamation laws. The lawyer will be able to advise what kinds of proof the plaintiff must provide for the case, which can include the intent of the slanderer and the harm sustained by the plaintiff, or employee. Of course, the attorney will help the employee prepare for any possible defenses by the plaintiff, which can include situations such as employer privilege and employee consent, being able to prove the statement was indeed a fact, or claiming the statement was an opinion of the speaker.