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Defamation by Ex-Employee

Defamation by employee

It is not uncommon for disgruntled former employees to embark on a campaign of defamation against their former employer’s company

The defamation normally occurs through blogs, emails, online reviews and by the initiation of discussion groups in forums aimed at throwing as much dirt as possible at the former employee's company. 

How employees defame their former employers

Former employee claims to be a whistle blower

Defamatory reviews on GlassDoor.com by former employees

What to do if you discover defamation by former employees online

How employees defame their former employers

There are many ways in which former employees may decide to initiate a campaign of defamation against their ex-employer. This for example could be in the form of a plot with other disgruntled employees who become influenced to participate in the defamation campaign. The employees in this context may have conspired together to leave the business at the same time and it is common that they will each hold a grudge against their former boss.

It can be burdening as well as frightening for many emplyers who are aware of how easy it is for former emplotees to initiate a campaign of defamation against them online and ruin their company's reputation. The nuisance to which most employers sometimes have to deal with when facing an online defamation campaign against them, is not being able to prove that it is the former employee, yet they have very strong suspicions. This is because it is common for ex-employees to carry out a defamation campaign anonymously, in order to not be caught out, for example via posting fake reviews to Google. 

Defamation by Former Employees Legal Advice FAQ

Yes, employers can take legal action against former employees for defamation if they disseminate false allegations or claims that damage the reputation of the company or its directors. The employer must prove that the defamation caused serious financial harm or reputational damage. However, proving direct financial loss due to defamatory statements can be challenging as share prices and business value can fluctuate for various reasons.

Defamation by former employees can manifest in various forms including blogs, emails, online reviews, and discussions in forums. It typically involves spreading false allegations of fraud, mismanagement, or other misconduct against the company or its officers. These defamatory campaigns are often carried out anonymously or under pseudonyms to avoid detection.

In defamation cases, a former employee might claim they were acting as a whistleblower, revealing supposed wrongdoings in the public interest. However, for a whistleblower defence to be valid, the information disclosed must be true and serve the public interest. If the employer believes the information is false and defamatory, the whistleblower defence may fail, and the employer can proceed with defamation claims.

Upon discovering online defamation by a former employee, it is crucial for employers to consult with specialist lawyers experienced in handling online defamation cases. Legal counsel will advise on the most effective and cost-efficient approach to handle the situation while protecting the business's reputation. Employers need to consider various options and strategise both short-term and long-term responses to the defamation.

Taking legal action against a former employee for defamation can have varied implications depending on the company culture and the severity of the defamation. It may be seen as a necessary step to protect the company's reputation by employees and customers who feel the company is justified in defending its name. However, it could also be perceived as oppressive if not handled sensitively, especially if the team or customers sympathise with the former employee. Employers must weigh the potential reputational impact, the likelihood of success, and the ability to demonstrate serious financial harm before proceeding with legal action.

Former employee claims to be a whistle blower

Former employees who defame their former employer online might try to hide behind whistle blower claims. They might say that they are posting information online about their former employee in order to secure a public interest. The truth of the matter, though, is that there is never public interest in disseminating false or defamatory information - it is just wrong and immoral. Therefore, if the employer believes that what is posted about them is defamatory, any whistle blower claim is deemed a fail.

When a former employee is posting under a false name, it is often because they don’t want to be revealed as the author of the published posts, often because they know that the informationt hey are disseminating is utter garbage. If the former employer claims that the published posts are defamatory, he will have a right to apply for third party disclosure orders (NPO) to reveal the true identify of the suspected former employee posting behind a fake profile. In this situation, the only way for the former employee to avoid disclosure of his or her true identity, is to make sure they cease and desist their defamatory campaign before they are unmasked by the NPO. There are no provisions in defamation cases for someone’s identity to remain anonymous. By definition, defamation claims mainly concern vindication, which means that the identity of both, the former employer and the employee will have to be disclosed.

Defamatory reviews on GlassDoor.com by former employees 

Sometimes former employees post defamatory reviews on the American based website GlassDoor.com. GlassDoor, is always keen to protect its users’ freedom of speech and is known to be fighting vigorously to protect the identify of employees who post about their employers on GlassDoor.com.

Employees from the UK do not have the automatic benefit of the First Amendment of the United States constitution. The constitution is aimed to protect US citizens and in most cases has no cross jurisdiction applicability. Perhaps for this reason, among a few others, former employees should not be allowed to post on GlassDoor.com freely to promote defamatory posts against their UK based employers.

What to do if you discover defamation by former employees online

If you discover defamation by former employees posted online, you should immediately contact a specialist lawyer who will be able to advise on how to handle the situation in a cost effective manner and in a way which would protect your business reputation. Bringing claims for online defamation against a former employee, could of course, result in the removal of the defamatory posts, but if not handled correctly, the same course of action could result in causing your business substantial reputational harm.

You should always take legal action for defamation by former employees only after you have considered all the different options that might be available to you as an employer and approach the matter with clear short-term and long-term strategies.

Are you a victim of defamation? Time might be of the essence. Call us now for legal advice on +44 207 183 4123 or send a request and we will contact you as soon as possible.

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