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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12025
Experience:  JD, MBA
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I am recently experiencing a situation where I have caught

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I am recently experiencing a situation where I have caught my boss making derogatory statements about me to other fellow employees. He even sent an instant message to me by accident which was intended for another employee who is not management. This statement included a nickname he has given to me which he will only use when I am not around. Do I have him for possible defamation and libel?
Hello and thank you for the opportunity to assist you. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do my very best to answer your legal questions.

In order to win a lawsuit for defamation, you must prove that the defendant made a false statement of fact about you to a third party, and that your reputation was damaged as a result. In most cases, damage to reputation cannot be proven unless there are monetary damages.

So, in your situation, whether or not you have a case depends on the nature of the derogatory statement. Was it a false statement of fact, or just an opinion? For example, if he said that you're a jerk, that would not be considered a false statement of fact. It's clearly just an opinion. But if he said that you stole company property, then that is clearly a statement of fact, and if it's false, then that could be defamation. You mentioned that the statements have been made to fellow employees, so they are certainly third parties. The last issue is whether the false statements caused damage to your reputation. For example, did you miss out on a raise or promotion because of the false statements? If so, then that would clearly show damage to your reputation.

So, the botXXXXX XXXXXne is that whether or not you have a viable case depends on the specific details of your situation, such was what exactly was said, to whom, and how it negatively affected you. Based on what I wrote above, if you think that what occurred does meet the definition of defamation, then I suggest that you retain a local attorney to take appropriate action, which could include anything from sending your boss a cease and desist order to filing a lawsuit.

Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I kind of already knew the facts stated but what he is saying is actually just childish and petty, but by saying this to my fellow co-workers had made me on edge and withdrawn as I am wondering if they take what he is saying as to form an opinion about me. I do not feel I should have to take this treatment from an employer but I also do not feel I need to quit to escape it. When I found the IM that was sent to me (his error) I called him out on it and he played it off as being about some customer but it was too specific of a statement to not be anyone else but about me. One fellow employee informed me what I was actually called when not around and this is why I am here now doing this. Though it was not theft, it does affect my work now. I have reported this to his boss but not sure what other recourse I have against him if needed.

Hello again.

Can you be more specific about the types of things that he said about you? Also, why do you think he makes the derogatory remarks? Could race, religion, gender, disability or age have anything to do with it?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

ok...he is (in my book) not good management material. He is an agent that opened an office not knowing really what to do. This was his career change. He hired me to assist in certain areas of sales. I am the top sales person there now, but he is being watched closely during his probation period (1 year) to sell certain products and when he is reprimanded he then comes down on me. It has been mentioned to him (by others) that he seems to bully me, but I just marked that up to his fear. I recently agreed to work till late one day and was allowed a 2 hour lunch. When I came back, I logged in and found an IM from him. Upon opening I read "BB must have fallen asleep - it has been two hours" so I asked him who BB was and he claimed it was a mistake regarding a customer. I later asked a co-worker what was my nickname and was told that he called me Big Baby because I thought I was being bullied. Remember, I never stated that; it was stated to him by another who observed it. He then called me the next evening as he heard from the same employee that I was upset and would possibly be notifying his super. He then told me that they were joking in the office about Walt Disney characters and BB stood for Betty Boop. He said sorry if I misunderstood, but I already found out the truth and now for him to switch his stories just made me even more upset. I told him I was busy and would talk about it Monday. I now have to go in and face all the people I work with and him knowing what he calls me and how he feels about me and it is very uncomfortable I just want to know what my recourse is and what I should or should not do as I am sure his super will also be showing up on Monday. I

Hello again.

Unfortunately, what you describe does not sound like defamation. If he calls you a Big Baby, then that is clearly just an opinion. In other words, the people who hear him call you a Big Baby would merely think that he doesn't like you. You can't win a lawsuit against somebody for not liking you, or for telling other people that he doesn't like you. To win a defamation lawsuit, you must prove that he made a false statement of fact about you. If he told people that you lost a particular account for the company, or that you stole money, or that you are a convicted felon, or that you are an alcoholic, then you may have a lawsuit. Those are statements of fact. In other words, they are either true, or they are not true. There is no opinion involved. But if he tells people that you're a cry baby, a whiner, a jerk, a loser, or stupid, then that is just his opinion about you. The opinion is neither true or false. Do you see the difference? So, based on what you wrote, it does not sound like you have a viable lawsuit for defamation.

But you didn't answer my question about why your boss attacks you. I specifically asked about race, religion, gender, etc., because it would be illegal for your boss to make the remarks about you if he is motivated by one of those factors. For example, if he doesn't like your religion, and that is why he calls you a baby, then that is illegal. On the other hand, if he just doesn't like your personality, and that is why he calls you a baby, then that is not illegal. The law doesn't usually get involved in matters between employees and employers. The law is designed to let the market sort these things out. You have the option to quit if you don't like how you are treated, and if your company's managers don't like losing good employees, then they may decide to fire your boss. But the law does get involved when the bad treatment is a result of those few factors (race, religion, etc.) mentioned above. The Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act (and a few other laws) protects people against discrimination based upon those types of factors. So, your boss's motivation is important.

If you don't think that the issue with you boss is founded on something illegal, like his dislike of your race or religion, then it'll need to be handled internally. I think that you've already done the right thing by informing your boss's boss. That's how this will need to be settled. If your employer values your work, then hopefully something will be done about your boss. If not, then you'll likely want to start looking for a new job.

I wish that I had more promising news for you, but you've taken the right steps in escalating this beyond your boss. I hope that your employer takes this seriously.

I am truly sorry to give you this bad news, but please understand that it would be unfair to you (and unprofessional of me) to provide you with anything less than an honest response. However, if your concerns were not satisfactorily addressed, then please let me know, and I will be happy to clarify my answer. I do ask that you rate me based upon whether I answered your question, and not based upon whether the answer was good news or bad news. Your positive feedback is greatly appreciated. Thank you for using our service!

TJ, Esq. and 7 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you