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Is my supervisor's evaluation of me libelous? Slanderous?

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Penny1212

Guest
What is the name of your state? Texas

<P>My supervisor has given me my annual evaluation to sign. On it, she claims that I have misrepresented my optional and required services to my employer as well as made mistatements of fact.<P>I have ample documentation supporting my services and refuting her allegation that I have been untruthful.<P>This supervisor also made a verbal claim during the interview process that "all" the administrators in the work place find me hostile and arrogant--yet she could not produce any substantiating evidence of the claim.<P>Obviously, I work for a supervisor hostile to me--because I fought against an institutional policy she wanted for political expediency. In a response I wish to submit, I am questioning whether she investigated all other employees under her direct supervision to determine the veracity of their service. I believe her to be so biased that she likely never verified the services of her departmental "favorites."<P>Any comments or advice for me? Is it time to engage an employment specialist? Her evaluation of me bears on next year's contract. Thanks!
 


Beth3

Senior Member
From what you have posted, no, you do not have any legal recourse because you don't agree with the evaluation your supervisor gave you. There are no laws which require management to "prove" their opinion of a subordinate's job performance, nor are employees entitled to due process. Your employer is not a court of law and you have no legal right to "confront" your accusers.

What I can tell you is that a supervisor sharing his or her opinion of a subordinate's performance on an annual appraisal or to his or her superiors does not constitute slander or libel. They are "parties in interest" in your employment relationship and thus have a high degree of protection from such claims.

Now having said you have no apparent legal recourse, I don't know whether you work for a private educational institution or a publicly funded one, so that may well have a bearing. I would also guess you have an employment contract. It appears you have multiple issues with your employer and as there are also unanswered questions as to your employment status (private vs. public) and possibly contract issues, your best recourse really is to consult with an attorney practicing employment law in your State.
 
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Penny1212

Guest
Reply to Beth3

Beth3, I work for a publicly funded college. Before I get to my initial question, permit me to comment on the question of due process. From what I have gleaned from Supreme Court precedents, all professors are entitled to due process (and the process is usually but not always spelled out in college handbooks). The premise appears to be that nothing can stand in a personnel file that is unsubstantiated. Do you agree with my reading of the research?

Re: my evaluation: Yes, I work under a multi-year contract. Alleging I have made false statements could have a bearing on whether I am granted a new contract when this one expires next year. More importantly, I wish to protect my welfare and professional reputation; such claims by the supervisor (dean) defame my character if left unchallenged. Here are two Texas statutes that may be applicable:
"Professors should have rights just like students. The Fourteenth Amendment requires due process before a public institution may deprive one of life, liberty, or property. Thus, in a university setting, a professor's good name and reputation are considered a liberty right. Due process should be required before a professor is deprived of this liberty right [Hollander et al, 1985]."

and from this forum:
"I RECENTLY REVIEWED MY PERSONNEL WORK FILES AND WAS HORRIFIED TO READ THAT SOME OF THE STATEMENTS WRITTEN BY MY SUPERVISOR WERE FLAT OUT WRONG. LIBEL?
If the offending material reflected only opinions, it would not be libelous. If the material, however, reflected facts, the employer is asking for a defamation suit, if the facts later are proved untruthful. For example, if your personnel file contains a negative job performance evaluation, stating that you are dishonest, not to be trusted with the keys to the cash register, the employer could be held liable for defamation, if the statement was false."
Now, my dean has written that I have misrepresented and misstated information in my self-evaluation (used as the basis of my official evaluation). I have not--and can substantiate EVERYTHING I either told her or wrote.

If the extended information here alters anything you've previously noted, please let me know. In any case, I thank you so very, very much for the generosity of your time and willingness to come to my aid. Penny1212
 
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Penny1212

Guest
An &quot;oops&quot; omission from previous reply

"Defamation refers to any communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, or lowered in the
estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Defamation is
governed by state law, but is limited by the first amendment. The LECTRIC Law Library @ http://www.lectlaw.com"
 

Beth3

Senior Member
Penny, my employment law and related experience has all been in the private sector. Anything I would advise you on regarding public sector issues, particuarly a publicly funded educational institution, would be best guess and I don't want to do that.

I once again will venture the opinion however that an evaluation you disagree with does not meet the standard of libel or slander. (1) it has not been communicated to anyone outside your organization (i.e. not been made public) and (2) your superiors are "parties in interest" in your employment which provides a very high level of protection against such claims.

See an attorney experienced in public sector employment laws.
 
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Penny1212

Guest
Reply to Beth3

Once again, I do wish to express my deepest appreciation for the time you've taken to respond to my inquiry. I shall take your advice and consult an employment law attorney in the area--if for no other reason to get him or her engaged in a letter of record representing me. Perhaps that will chill the continued retaliatory environment I'm in.
Re: the publication of her statements (not opinion) that I am untruthful, I take that record with me in any search for employment elsewhere. In addition, a council of my peers, all administrators, and a board of directors read my performance evaluations as they consider the award of a new contract.

Again, my sincerest thanks to you . . .

With best wishes,
Penny
 

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