Defamation of Character in the Workplace

Note: This content is for informational purposes only, our law firm does not handle “defamation of character in the workplace” cases.

Performance reviews and constructive criticism can help employees improve and grow within a company. However, there can be a thin line between honest criticism and defamatory statements. 

Defamation of character in the workplace can destroy a person’s career. It can prevent you from getting the job you want or could cost you the job you have right now. Here are some things every employee in St. Petersburg, Florida, should know about defamation of character in the workplace. 

What Is Considered Defamation of Character Under Florida Law?

Defamation is a false statement that injures your reputation. Defamation of character means false statements intended to attack or harm a person’s character. Two forms of defamation that attack a person’s character are slander and libel.

Slander occurs when defamatory statements are spread by speaking. Libel occurs when defamatory statements are made in writing. Slanderous and libelous statements are unlawful in Florida. 

Libel and slander can result in criminal charges under Florida law. A person could also have a civil claim if defamatory statements cause them to suffer harm or damages

Does Florida’s Liable and Slander Law Protect Against Defamation of Character in the Workplace?

Yes. Florida law allows facts and opinions to be shared. However, if your employer, co-workers, customers, or others say something defamatory about you, you might have a legal claim against them. Defamation laws allow you to fight slander and libel in the workplace to protect your reputation and recover damages caused by defamation of character. 

Filing a Florida Defamation of Character Lawsuit for False Statements Made in the Workplace 

If someone defames you at work, you can file a lawsuit seeking damages. A St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer can help you build a case against the party or parties who defamed your character and damaged your reputation in the workplace.

You have the burden of proving your case to a jury by a preponderance of the evidence. Therefore, the evidence you present must convince jurors that there is more than a 50% chance that the parties defamed you than not.

The legal elements of a defamation of character case are:

The Statements Were False 

Factual statements are not defamatory, even if they hurt your reputation or career. Therefore, the first hurdle you must clear is proving that the statements made about you were false. If you cannot prove the statements made about you were false, you cannot win your case.

The Statements Are Defamatory 

False statements that are complimentary are not defamatory. The statements must harm your reputation to be considered defamation of character. In the workplace, defamatory statements can be professional or personal.

For example, someone might spread false rumors that you slept with your boss to get a promotion. They could also falsely claim that you stole money from the company or that your college degree is not authentic. 

Statements Must Be Communicated to a Third Party

Saying false or hurtful statements to you when no one else can hear them is not defamation. The false statements must be spoken to or sent to a third party through written communication. 

The Person Was Negligent 

People make honest mistakes. They share information they believe to be true. Therefore, to win a defamation case, you must prove that the person was negligent in sharing the information. 

Negligence is acting without using the same level of care a reasonable person would have used in a similar situation. Therefore, you must prove that a reasonable person would have or should have had some indication that the statements could be untrue.

The Defamatory Statements Caused Harm

Even if you prove that the person defamed you, you cannot recover compensation for your case unless you prove damages. You must prove you suffered harm because of the defamatory statements. Economic and non-economic damages can include financial, social, and emotional harm.

For example, the false statements made by a co-worker led to your employer firing you. A false statement made by an employer that kept you from getting another job could be defamatory. 

Do I Need a Lawyer To File a Claim for Defamation of Character in the Workplace in Florida?

Defamation of character at work can have long-term consequences, both personal and professional. However, these cases can be difficult to prove because you must prove negligence. If you are a public official, you may also need to prove malice in addition to negligence to win your case.

An experienced St. Petersburg personal injury lawyer can review your case during a free consultation. The attorney can explain how Florida’s defamation laws apply to your case and the chance of recovering compensation for your damages. 

Hiring a lawyer gives you the benefit of legal expertise, resources to conduct an investigation to gather evidence, and knowledge of the judicial process you would not have if you tried to pursue a legal matter on your own. 

Contact the Pinellas County Law Firm Of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers for Help

For more information, please contact the Clearwater and St. Petersburg personal injury law firm of Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers at the nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We serve in Pinellas County and its surrounding areas:

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater
1875 N Belcher Rd. STE 201,
Clearwater, FL 33765,
United States
(727) 796-8282

Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes Personal Injury Lawyers – St. Petersburg
2560 1st Ave S,
St. Petersburg, FL 33712,
United States
(727) 349-1728