Can I sue my boss for defamation?

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Can I sue my boss for defamation?

My co-worker got fired a few months ago. She is suing the company because of unpaid vacation time and commission. She is also suing them because during our busy season our manager doesn’t let us work overtime and needs us to finish our work within the 8 hour shift. They ran a report and we were working a 12 hour work load in 8 hour shifts. Due to all the stress and anxiety, many people didn’t take breaks or eat lunch at their desks. My boss recently went to court and saw my friend there and told her that I wrote a letter about her staying that I would go to breaks with her everyday. I never wrote a letter about her and I don’t know how to confront my boss.

Asked on January 30, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

In theory, you could sue: the boss made an untrue assertion or statement of fact about you to other people (in court) which damages your reputation.
In practice, it's almost certainly not worth suing. The law generally only provides compensation equivalent or related to the amount of actual, provable harm you suffered. Unless you can show some harm from this--loss of an employment opportunity, for example; that it caused you to be barred from or dropped from some industry or community group or organization; etc.--you would get very little, if any (i.e. "nominal") compensation ("damages"), and so could easily spend more time and money on the case than it is worth.


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