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  1. #1
    worksuks is offline Junior Member
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    Inappropriate email

    What is the name of your state? Utah

    I posted in the Workplace Harassment but I was advise this maybe the better place to get some advice on my situation.

    I have a co-worker that is a manager and has an attendance problem. When she does come to work it is usually for a couple of hours. With this her employees look to me for guidance so I have stepped in and helped take care of day to day issues with her department. When I took the issue to our manager about her not being there for her department, this employee got upset. She went to a different co-worker and told her that me and 2 of her own employees smoke pot at lunch. Which is crazy! Then she sent an email to management and her team, even the ones she is accusing of doing drugs with me that we do "extra curricular activities at lunch". Which I would assume is the pot smoking.

    I have since filed 2 written complaints with HR 1.email 2.conversation with other manager. Since then I have been asked at work to take a drug test. I am happy to do that but I am thinking by them asking me to do this that they believe the accusations. My understanding of reading through some of the threads that since they asked they may indeed believe the accusations so would that be grounds for defamation of character? Would this be against the company or the individual?

    I really am looking for some advice. I am not a sue happy person but I have a great job that I enjoy and have never had any problems with any employer but I really feel offended by the drug accusations and then them asking me to take the drug test.
  2. #2
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    It is defamation to falsely accuse someone of a crime, so this manager/co-worker has certainly defamed you by telling others you smoke pot if you don't. Whether you can bring any successful defamation action against this manager/co-worker, however, depends on several "proofs" you must make and, additionally, on how much money you want to risk to see this through the court system. Defamation actions are extremely expensive.

    From what you have posted here, the email the manager sent seems to make no mention of an illegal activity (although you may understand it to mean pot smoking), so it alone is not sufficient to prove defamation. It is not libelous. An extra-curricular activity could mean you help tutor children in math during your lunch hour.

    Because of this, you would need instead a witness or witnesses to testify to the "spoken defamation" (slander). You would want the one co-worker your manager approached about the "pot-smoking" to testify that the manager said you smoked pot. If anyone else was told you smoked pot, their testimony would be important as well. The comment made by the manager must have been stated as fact, or implied as fact, for it to be clearly slanderous.

    Testing for drugs in the workplace is not necessarily reputationally damaging, as it is something requested and required of many employees in many jobs as part of their employment contract. Random drug testing may be mentioned as a condition of your employment. Testing alone, then, cannot be used as an indicator, necessarily, of defamatory comments affecting your workplace reputation.

    If you can prove you are being singled out for this drug testing, however, and can additionally prove this is tied to the defamatory comments made about you by the manager, then it may be possible to use this as an indicator of reputational injury.

    Again, you must be able to show that the pot-smoking comment was stated or implied as fact by the manager (opinion is often a successful defense against defamation), and said with negligence by the manager. If the manager can demonstrate he had a legitimate reason to believe the comment made was true (sights, sounds, smells), this, too, can be a defense used for defamation.

    Then you would need to demonstrate that the words of your manager has led to hatred or ridicule or contempt or a loss of esteem among others in your workplace or has injured you in some other demonstrable way in your job (loss of a promotion, loss of income, etc).

    Reputational injury is at the center of any defamation action. Without demonstrable reputational injury, you do not have a defamation action worth pursuing.
  3. #3
    worksuks is offline Junior Member
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    Your reply was very helpful. Thank you for taking the time to help people out with questions that should be answered for free!
    Thanks again!
  4. #4
    quincy is offline Senior Member
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    You're welcome, worksuks. Good luck.

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