If my wife has 2 co-workers who went to HR and asked that she be fired because she cannot do her job but these co-workers are telling lies that can be proven to be lies, is this harassment or bullying?

My wife has excellent reviews for years.

Asked on September 4, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF the coworkers are provably lying, then they may be committing defamation, and your wife may have grounds to sue them. Defamation is the making to others of an untrue factual statement which damages a person's reputation. Opinions are not defamation, however, so saying that your wife is "not doing her job" may not be defamation, since whether someone is "doing her job" or not is an opinion. But a factual mistatement could be defamation. So if instead of saying "Jane Doe is not doing her job"--which is an opinion--they say "Jane Doe comes in late, takes a long lunch, and leaves early," which are factual statements, if those statements  are untrue, that could be defamation.
It is the coworkers themselves--the ones making the statements--which your wife may have a cause of action against, not the company, which is the recipient but not originator of the statements.

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