Is Defamation a Matter for Employment Lawyers?

Defamation cases can be serious, and large monetary settlements are often reached if they are taken to court. In general, defamation laws are designed to protect people from unfair and unwarranted verbal and written attacks. In short, defamation is anything which harms a person or other body’s reputation without due cause.

And yes, defamation cases are sometimes a matter for employment lawyers, depending on the circumstances surrounding them. In many cases, defamation involving employers and employees can be messy, especially if working relationships have broken down.

What Constitutes Defamation?

To put it simply, defamation cases involve one person or party seeking damages for loss of reputation. In general, defamation is linked to someone distributing material making untrue claims about the person or business in question. It comes in many forms, including:

  • Social media posts, blogs, and other digital content.
  • Newspaper or magazine articles attacking another party without due cause.
  • Photos, music, and other artistic or creative material.
  • Emails, regardless who they were sent to or meant for.
  • Broadcast or spoken words, including radio shows and podcasts.

In serious cases, defamation can seriously harm an individual or business’s future prospects, leading to lost income and potentially serious mental illness. Luckily, defamation laws in Australia are tough, allowing those who are affected to seek compensation from the offender.

What Should I Do if I Want to Make a Defamation Claim?

If you feel that you’ve been negatively affected by defamatory comments or other content, you should speak to your local law firm. If this defamation has occurred in the workplace, either between two employees or between employee and employer, you might need to consult an employment lawyer to confirm your employee’s or employer’s rights.

Now, defamation claims are becoming increasingly popular due to the ever-increasing ease of access to digital content and the popularity of social media and other online platforms. If you want to make a defamation case, you will need to be able to prove:

  1. That the so-called defamatory material was dispersed intentionally and not backed by facts or factual information.
  2. That it clearly identified and targeted you or your business.
  3. That it was serious enough to cause lasting, ongoing harm to your or your business’s reputation.

If you feel you meet these three criteria, we encourage you to speak to a lawyer ASAP to deal with the issue before it gets worse.

What Are Some Examples of Defamation in the Workplace?

Workplace defamation occurs more frequently than you might think, but it’s sometimes hard to identify the difference between defamation and “joking around”. Some examples of serious workplace defamation include:

  • Any spoken or written words that expose you to hate or ridicule, regardless of the reason.
  • Anything that intentionally or unintentionally lowers your social status.
  • Any untrue information that lowers your future prospects, including rumours that prevent you from being promoted or reduce the chance of getting a pay rise.

If you feel like you’re the victim of workplace defamation, we’d highly recommend speaking to your local employment law firm to determine whether it’s worth taking the case further.