What can I do if my wife’s co-worker states that I’m abusing her when I’m not?

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What can I do if my wife’s co-worker states that I’m abusing her when I’m not?

My wife recently told me that her assistant store manager was told by the other store manager that I abuse her. I have never laid a hand on her in any hurtful way possible. What can I do about this? This is hurting my reputation. Can I legally take action against the company where she works since it was stated there? Can I legally take action against the co-worker? If I take action against that person and she cuts my wife’s hours since she does the scheduling, can my wife take action for that?

Asked on June 21, 2012 under Personal Injury, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You can, from what you write, take legal action against the store manager who said that you abused your wife: it appears that he has defamed you. Defamation is the public (to any other people) making of untrue factual statements (such as a claim that you commit spousal abuse) which damages another person's reputation. You therefore may be able to sue him.

You would not have a cause of action against the store for his defamation: an employer is not liable for the wrongful acts of its employees, unless committing such wrongful acts was part of their job or otherwise knowningly sanctioned/supported by the employer. Since defamation would not be part of his job, the store would not be liable.

If the store retaliates against your wife if you sue the manager for retaliation--i.e. he is allowed to cut her hours--then it's possible you may have a cause of action against the store for tortiously (wrongfully) interfering with your wife's economic advantage or for defamation (since at that point, they could be veiwed as sanctioning his wrongful acts).

It would be worthwhile to discuss the matter in detail with a personal injury attorney, to see if you have a cause of action and what it might be worth.


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