Defamation by employees
Defamation by employees
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How to prevent becoming a victim of defamation by former employees and partners
Online defamation by employees or by former business partners is often difficult to handle. The employee might have top secret knowledge of the business, its weaknesses and the shortcomings of the organisation, the managers and the systems and processes.
It is difficult to describe that first shocking moment when you discover that the reputation of your business is being tarnished all over the internet. There is really nothing else like it, and it is followed by sleepless nights and constant worry.
For some business people whose reputation is attacked online, things will never be the same again. The very same person you trusted, delegated responsibility to or helped develop personally and professionally has turned against you. Their reasons might or might or might not be justified but their actions are vicious. Just imagine: As you lie awake wishing the problem would go away, instead, it is spreading throughout the internet.
Within weeks, sometimes even days, there is more defamatory material every time you look. Suddenly you see reviews and complaints and comments about you or about your business. The complaints are anonymous, and they are in too many places for you to respond to, if the websites even allow for a response at all. The lightning speed of information flowing through the internet—the speed that seems so miraculous when you are seeking information—is now working against you. Soon, matters are completely out of your control.
It might not take much for you to guess who is responsible for the creation of these treacherous, career-wrecking defamatory posts. Is it really possible that your business has turned from being excellent, or even ok to horrific over the course of a week or so? Probably not. It turns out that former employees and former business partners are responsible for many of them. Experience tells us that this group of people is often motivated by a strong sense of injustice and powerful emotions of anger, pain, and fear.
They are hurt emotionally and financially when they lose their position—without good cause, as they see it. In their view, their treatment by their former employer or business partner constitutes a breach of trust. Now that you’ve breached it, so will they. With a vengeance—literally. And they can do it in a way few others can.
During their employment, former employees and business partners are likely to have access to sensitive information about the company, and in some cases, evidence of minor wrongdoings by their employer or business partner. They might be in possession of vast amounts of information about you, your family, your personal life, your business practices and some of your past mistakes and errors. They may now use this information against you.
While it is impossible to entirely eliminate the possibility of breach of trust by former employees or business partners, you can reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim to online defamation. Here are some important steps you should take as a precaution to reduce the likelihood of your business becoming a victim to online defamation by former employees. Ignore them at your own risk:
Always remember that employees and business partners come and go. Someday they will no longer be with your company, but their memories of you will not end with their employment.
Never compromise your own integrity, certainly not in front of your employees. Place a high value on personal integrity and trustworthiness when assessing a new business partner or employee. Skills may be acquired, but integrity cannot. It is gold, and value it as such.
Always look for signals of disgruntlement among your employees. Listen to their concerns and act to fix matters quickly. Seek out feedback and meeting with your team regularly. Discourage gossiping and politization of the workplace. Certainly never be a part of it. There is a certain workplace culture that tends to create a breeding ground for disgruntlement. Disgruntled creates bitterness and bitterness might turn into anger and frustration, which are part of the reasons as to why former employees go to defame their previous workplace.
Restrict access to sensitive personal data and private information. Keep your customers’ mailing lists private as well. Maintain them in safe, preferably password-protected databases, and never make these databases freely available to your employees, especially in a downloadable format. Take steps to avoid the possibility of data theft which could then be leaked to the internet to cause your company serious reputational harm.
Make sure that your organisation complies with all the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and GDPR provisions. If you neglect your legal obligations to protect your customers and employees’ data from being stolen, you could find yourself liable for prosecution.
Ensure that your employees are constantly aware of your uncompromising approach towards breaches of the company’s internal processes, and of rules and regulations. Create a culture of compliance and lawfulness. Employees who leave employers who are disorganised, lacks systems and processes, who don’t take their own policies and the law seriously, are more likely to defame their former employer. company’s customer database, deal with the issue immediately and without compromise. It is important that a stern approach towards any form of breach of trust is appropriately communicated to your entire workforce.
Make sure that there are provisions in your employees' employment contracts that provide for sanctions for defaming or for bringing your organisation into disrepute. Provide whistle blowing requirement which places on employees a positive duty to report breaches of internal policies and of the law within your organisation.
Always play it straight in business generally and with your employees. Be fair in your dealings with employees and partners and listen to their concerns. It is the right thing to do. And it can also prevent internet-reputation nightmares down the road.