Can I sue for defamation of character at work? 2 Answers as of April 11, 2012

I'm needing some information about suing a coworker for defamation, etc. What will the cost to me be to start this process? What would I get as a judgement? Just money or is there some sort of correction to my reputation? I work for a school district. I was drug tested at work, test came back positive. I was put on paid admin leave on 1/31 and will remain so until May 1st when my resignation goes into effect. A newly hired coworker is telling everyone that I was fired for positive drug test and because I was the one responsible for the thefts that occurred last fall. I was not fired, I chose to resign and get a settlement. I was never accused of the thefts, in fact it was never even mentioned to me or in any of the paperwork during this process. The entire staff is believing his lies and gossip. No one is returning my email request for letters of recommendation. Last weekend I saw a coworker in Target and flinch to say hi but then realized she would have heard all the lies/gossip and I felt so humiliated. This will randomly happen for years to come if not the rest of my life. I have lost business relationships that would help me get jobs. 20 years from now I could come paths with a coworker and it will affect my work. I have copies of texts and emails to back this up, from the coworker doing the defaming and 2 others who were told the lies by the coworker. What are my options here? Please get back to me at your convience in email or phone call.

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Ahluwalia Law P.C.
Ahluwalia Law P.C. | Madan Ahluwalia
Any recovery for defamation is for money damages, and the practical effect is that the person stops saying defamatory things about you because they don't want to continue paying you more money. First, however, you must understand that defamation protects reputation based on spreading lies. In your case, there are two things that may negatively be affecting your reputation: (1) testing positive in an employment drug screening and (2) stealing. And although truth is an absolute defense to a defamation action, you probably have a privacy right regarding your drug test results. As for the stealing allegation, another hurdle you might face is that talk between co-workers may be privileged since they all know you as a co-worker. But if the court finds that they were talking about you maliciously then they will be held accountable. There is no sure fire way to say for certain whether you would prevail on an action for defamation, but I think you should definitely see an attorney, and fight to protect your reputation. However, you should be aware that there is a one year statute of limitations to bring a lawsuit from when you first learned of the defamation, so you need to act quickly.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/11/2012
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
Defamation is a difficult case. If the comments this person makes are statements of his/her opinion, they are not abasis for a law suit. No attorney that is even remotely competent can tell you what you would recceive as compenastion, if you prevailed. No competent attorney is going to even consider taking this case without seeing what was said, who said it and to whom it was said and under what circumstances it was said. Speed here may also be important as this involvesa co-worker, might also indicate a casue of action against the school district. 6 mos. statuute of limitations. which would probably be continuing if statements are being made. Should be able to get a consult free. Suggest you avoid 800 number firms.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/10/2012
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