Can you sue a co-worker or your employer if you know this co-worker is spreading rumors and is lying about you and it is causing harm to your reputation at your job?

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Can you sue a co-worker or your employer if you know this co-worker is spreading rumors and is lying about you and it is causing harm to your reputation at your job?

I’m a manager at a state agency and another manager in my office is spreading rumors and lies about me that I have witnesses to, which is damaging my reputation and my ability to be promoted or transfer to other offices. Everything that she is saying is false, its all lies. Can I sue her because her actions are hurting me and how I make a living and support myself and my family?

Asked on May 26, 2019 under Personal Injury, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

You can't sue the employer, because this tortious (wrongful and actionable) conduct is outside of the bounds of employment: it is not part of her job, is not what she is hired to do, and so the employer is not liable for it. The employer is also not responsible for curbing or stopping her behavior: that is not one of their duties.
You can potentially sue the person who is spreading rumors, if those rumors are false factual statements or claims about you (not merely opinions), since false factual statements which damage your reputation are defamation. If you want to explore the possibility of a defamation suit, what it would take to win it, and what it might be worth, consult with an attorney.


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