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A senior colleague has been circulating personal gossip

Customer Question
Second opinion] A senior...

Second opinion] A senior colleague has been circulating personal gossip about me for the past few years. How can I stop it? This has nothing to do with my work quality.

Lawyer's Assistant: Was this discussed with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

No.

Lawyer's Assistant: Is the workplace "at will" or union? Is the job hourly or salaried?

I am in a network of volunteers.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I don't know what might be relevant.

Submitted: 3 months ago.Category: Employment Law
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Answered in 29 minutes by:
12/29/2017
Employment Lawyer: Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer replied 3 months ago
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,149
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance.

Unless there are false statements being made, it does not qualify as defamation of character, so you can't stop it that way. If they are false, then you have to hire a local attorney to send a "cease and desist" letter to the person, threatening defamation of character claims.

The only other way would be if you can establish that the reason this person is spreading gossip is your race, religion, gender, age or disability. Then you can make the situation about discrimination and file that complaint with the employer and the EEOC in your state.

Without that as the motivation though, this is not a matter of employment law. The Supreme Court has stated that our employment laws are not a civility code for the workplace. Discrimination can be dealt with, but office politics is not something our laws cover.

If you have any further questions or other facts that you would like me to consider, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a three, a four or preferably a five star rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Please rate me based on my service and not on your satisfaction with the law, which I am not in control of and I am just reporting to you. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Thanks. Kindly advise as to which jurisdiction you are in, and to which Supreme Court you are referring. Please see earlier discussion on this point.
Employment Lawyer: Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer replied 3 months ago

I'm talking about the Supreme Court of the United States, which is the ruling court of the country. It's rulings and my legal advise apply in every district in the country.

I'm an licensed in numerous states. I am also a JAG officer with federal licensing. I have had clients in every state in the country.

I have no access to your previous discussions, so I can't review them. What about those previous conversations did you want me to know?

Employment law is a federal, which is why we can practice nationally. No state has redefined "hostile work environment" to be more stringent than the Supreme Court of the United States has.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
Kindly advise me on jurisdictional issues. I am not a US Citizen, but the person who defamed me is one. The defamation that I experienced occurred in yet another 3rd country. But I understand from other people that the defamation continues, with warnings about working with me. This is harming me, both personally and professionally. I personally regarded this person as a mentor and friend, but was always very careful not to overstep the mark, eg. never accepted one of the offers to a dinner a deux or to stay at his house in Washington. There are also timing issues. This occurred 2 years ago, that I heard, but I understand it continues. It has taken me some time to disentangle myself from this mess psychologically and take stock of the situation as it is. I trusted this person and have spent huge time and resources over 20 years to do work for his cause, pro bono. I would like to deal now with the legal issues.
Employment Lawyer: Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer replied 3 months ago

This is not employment law, but rather, international tort law. I can only generally advise on the issue.

The country where the defamation took place is where you'd have jurisdiction for any sort of personal injury claim.

You could attempt a claim in the United States, but that is exceedingly difficult when the tort is taking place outside of the country. There are two types of jurisdiction, personal and subject matter. A court has to have both in order to oversee a case. Personal jurisdiction is about where the people are or where they are taking action. Subject matter jurisdiction is about the tort itself and where it took place.

A federal court in the United States would have personal jurisdiction over the people that live here and over you if you filed there, but the question is whether or not there is subject matter jurisdiction if the tort is taking place outside of the U.S. If you can allege that the effects are reaching into the U.S., then you could argue that a federal court here has subject matter jurisdiction too.

To prove defamation, you have to show that a false statement of fact is being made about you (rather than negative opinion statements).

"She once killed three penguins with a shovel" is a false statement that alleges a fact. It would be defamation.

"I can't stand working with her. I don't think she's very competent" is a statement that alleges an opinion and cannot for the basis for a defamation claim.

You need to determine what her statements were and take this matter to a U.S. personal injury/torts attorney that does federal work. You can find one through www.martindale.com

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Employment Lawyer: Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer replied 3 months ago

Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required after the response I previously provided to you. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.

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Allen M., Esq.
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Satisfied Customers: 20,149
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Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation

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