Protecting Against False Accusation

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Protecting Against False Accusation

Protecting Against False Accusations

Falsely accusing someone of sexual harassment or creating a hostile workplace can have serious negative consequences on the following:

  • Employee morale:
    1. Loss of productivity
  • Emotional stress:
    1. Increase in health-related absenteeism
  • Future employment:
    1. Lack of trust by future employers

The increased ease of use of technology such as instant messaging, email, and social networking sites has had an impact on the spread of false accusations and information in the workplace. When the false information results in injuring the reputation of someone's character or a company's reputation, it is considered to be a form of defamation, which is regulated by law.

Defamation Laws

Everyone has the right to the protection of his or her good name. When someone attacks the reputation of another person by falsely accusing that person, causing injury, the accused person has the right to file a lawsuit against the person who attacked him or her.

There are several criteria that must be met in order for the lawsuit to stand in court. These criteria may vary by state, but in general, the accused must prove:

  1. The accusations were stated to a third party or published where others can read them.
  2. The accusations must be false and cause injury of some kind. For example, loss of a job.
  3. The accusations made during a lawsuit or other setting where privilege is applied are protected from defamation lawsuits.

Privileged Statements

In certain circumstances, privilege applies, protecting the person making certain defamatory statements from any liability. Some examples of circumstances where privilege applies are:

  1. Legal proceedings where the statements may be false but are made as part of the defense or prosecution of the victim.
  2. Performance appraisals where the employer may make negative comments, without malice, about the employer's performance, even though the employee does not like the comments.

Workplace Discrimination Laws

If an employee is treated unfairly by other employees based on color, gender, national origin, pregnancy, race, religion, or sexual orientation, the victim may file a workplace discrimination lawsuit if that treatment causes the victim to be discriminated against by other employees.

Background Check Laws

Former employers are protected from defamation lawsuits as long as the information provided to prospective employers is accurate. The prospective employee cannot sue the former employer if he or she does not get the job based on truthful statements made by the former employer, but if the former employer makes statements during the background check that are false and the employee is not hired or is terminated from current employment, a lawsuit can be filed.

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