What do I do if my reputation has been damaged by my employer?Team
Most people aim to have a good relationship with their employers. A good relationship between an employer and an employee can make for an enjoyable working environment for everyone involved.
Unfortunately, sometimes working relationships do not go well. Sometimes, working relationships can become poor enough that employees are terminated. An employer may even allege claims about an employee that may be blown out of proportion or categorically untrue.
What can an employee do if their employer has made allegations about them that are untrue? What can they do if rumours follow them from a previous job and make their lives difficult elsewhere? While it can be difficult to completely undo damage to someone’s reputation, there are some options that you can take.
My employer made allegations that are untrue! What now?
The first step that someone in this position might want to take would be to find a way to prove that the allegations are untrue. If you have a paper or electronic trail of messages, recordings, eyewitnesses, or any other way to show that the allegations are false, make sure to collect them and have them prepared in case you need to show them to someone later.
Before things progress too far, if you are able, try speaking directly to your employer or former employer. You may be able to clear up some of the claims and make sure that they do not get any worse or spread any further.
In some cases, if you can afford it and you have the opportunity, an investigation by a third party may be beneficial if it is important to prove that the allegations are false. This may not be an option for everyone in this situation, but if it is available, it may be a good idea to pursue it as an option.
Can hiring an employment lawyer help me?
Hiring an employment lawyer is likely the first step that you should take if you have suffered damage to your reputation from your workplace. An employment lawyer can help you get an overview of the situation and figure out your options and whether you have a strong case. If defamation occurred, an employment lawyer may be able to help you get more money if you were terminated, as well as try to find solutions to solve your reputation problem.
An employment lawyer can send a demand letter to your former employer asking them to issue an apology or otherwise find a way to make up for the reputation damage. If there are documents stating the claim that have been circulated, or other materials that are embarrassing or degrading to your reputation, you may ask that they be retrieved and destroyed.
If a demand letter does not clear the situation up, you may be able to progress your legal claim to a mediation. This would prompt a conversation with your employer that is moderated by a third party. If a mediation does not go well, you may then proceed to litigation to get the issue cleared up.
What if the allegations are really bad?
If the allegations are extremely damaging, i.e. bad enough to prevent you from getting future jobs or living your life normally, you may be able to speak to a lawyer about suing for defamation.
Suing under the tort of defamation is a way to seek relief after someone has published (meaning said or sent to two or more people) or verbally said things that have damaged your reputation. Defamation can fall into two categories: libel and slander. Libel refers to written documentation that affects your reputation, whereas slander refers to things that have been spoken about you. In general, libel is considered to be better grounds to sue someone on, as it can be easier to prove and is generally considered to be more harmful.
This is why it is a good idea to make sure you have collected all relevant documents and other evidence as soon as possible. If it is electronic, do so before it can be deleted or un-posted (e.g. removal of a Twitter tweet). Screenshots of defamatory content should be taken, ideally with timestamps, so that Internet defamation can be proven even after the employer/publisher has tried to cover it up.
In order to sue for defamation, the verbal or written statements need to have been heard or read by someone else. This might involve a statement that is released about you at a workplace, comments on social media, radio, or television, or a conversation in front of a number of witnesses. In Ontario, you do not need to prove that there were damages from this happening, so long as you can show the courts that most people would believe what was said.
If you believe that you might have a case for defamation due to allegations in your workplace, make sure to reach out to a lawyer as soon as possible to learn about your options.
Navigating a situation where someone has made untrue statements about you that may be damaging can be difficult. It may feel like you do not have any option other than to deal with the things that people are saying about you.
However, there are legal remedies available if you are in this situation. If you can’t clear up the issue with your former employer, make sure to collect any evidence you have and speak to a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will be able to help you get the best solution to your problem, and they may be able to help undo some of the damage done.
If you are facing untrue allegations or if you have questions about anything covered in this article, make sure to reach out to the qualified team at Achkar Law for help.
If you are an employer or an employee with questions about reputation damage, our team of experienced workplace lawyers at Achkar Law can help. Contact us by phone toll-free at 1 (800) 771-7882 or email us at [email protected], and we will be happy to assist.
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