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Tort of Defamation as a Common Workplace Tort

In today’s world a man’s reputation is undoubtedly his most valuable asset. A good reputation brings potential future success; therefore, its value is intangible. The law is designed to protect us from harm, including name slander, which is defamation. The tort of defamation refers to false statements intended to harm another’s reputation. Defamatory statements can either be written or spoken, namely libel and slander, respectively. However, defamation is invalid when the perpetrator has a history of crimes and past felonies. Therefore, this paper evaluates this tort and suggests a policy to balance employer and employees’ rights in the workplace.

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An element of defamation is that the words must be defamatory, intended to cause the plaintiff to be shunned or degraded by right-minded members of society. Defamatory comments are intended to ruin one’s rapport with others (Cihon & Castagnera, 2017). The words must be shown to be construed by the defendant and interpreted by a person of sound mind as defamatory. The statement must also be false and must refer to the plaintiff. Even if the word does not mention him or her by name, it can be actionable because a reasonable person would understand it as referring to the plaintiff (Rolph, 2016). The statement should also be communicated to a third party as this tort offers protection against one’s reputation, not hurt feelings. Defamation requires an element of personal disgrace to be considered as such.

Defamation is defendable by the arguing that the statements are factual- there’s no malice behind the statement or that it is made from a qualified privilege. Examples of such are statements made during judicial proceedings or conversations between spouses (Cihon & Castagnera, 2017). One can also argue that the statement was not a matter of public interest thus did not result in any form of public slander. One can also dispute the context of the view that it was defamatory (Rolph, 2016). In most cases, actual harm is shown through economic loss attributed to the impact of defamatory information.

Defamation cases are pretty common in the workplace. These cases lead to poor working conditions for other employees and results in upheavals within the company. Specific policies can be set in place to balance employee and employer rights. For example, a clause should be included in the employment agreement for mutual respect. It should consist of a requirement for the employer to uphold respect and proper language etiquette as well. The use of a zero-tolerance policy against offensive and otherwise defamatory language in the workplace would also be beneficial. This policy should also be essential when reprimanding employees so that it doesn’t cross slanderous lines. Employers should act quickly when a worker is accused of any form of Defamation (Cihon & Castagnera, 2017). The material should be reviewed to determine its defamatory ness and proper legal advice be sort (Zipsurky, 2016). Adequate training should also be offered during the acquisition of new workers and updated for current employees. The subordinates and the executive and board should be educated on the appropriate language to create a conducive working environment.

Protecting one’s reputation is key to ensuring success in many facets of life. With this internet age, information is free-flowing; thus, defamation can lead to a lot of damage. Defamatory language has its insurmountable repercussions, and its definition too broad for the consequences it brings forth. This language can only be accurately identified on a case-by-case basis. Therefore, establishing more rules to prevent and defend both parties’ rights is necessary and should cover all grey areas for proper coalescing within society.


Cihon, P. J., & Castagnera, J. O. (2017). Employment and labor law (9th ed.). Cengage Learning.

Rolph, D.(2016).Reputation, celebrity, and defamation law. Routledge publishing.

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Zipsurky, B., (2016).Online defamation, legal concepts, and the good samaritan. Vol 51, 1-56. Web.

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