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Defamation of character(43 Posts)
Hi guys, bit of a long one.
A woman in work has been off since February. I have worked with her since September, at which time we both applied for the same position, I was successful in this application and became her line manager. Safe to say, things became difficult after this. She repeatedly went out of her way to make errors, she was sent home for not wearing uniform (after 2 prior incidents of her not wearing uniform and being warned for it)
She went off sick in February, stating anxiety (not work related) and depression.
She has since brought multiple claims against the company, including a Grievance against myself.
There is no truth to anything in the grievance (this is not to cover my own back, the things said have genuinely never happened) and the grievance has been heard twice and found in my favour twice. She has appealed this again, and all of a sudden there is an addition claim of homophobia on there. Apparently I regularly discussed how I found homosexuality wrong, and referred to a member if staff as the lesbian.
This is categorically untrue. For reference, I worked with a gay man for 10 years who had HIV and was very supportive of him, my best friend is gay, he read at my wedding, the last 2 employees I have hired have been gay, one of which I offered to write a character reference for her to adopt a child, and finally the person I have supposedly refered to at the lesbian, is in fact, straight. The other woman has only met her once, and we have never discussed her. I know the woman’s sexuality because we were married the same month and showed each other pictures.
I am absolutely furious with this allegation, and considering taking further action myself. My question is, what would you do?
Yabu- forget about it
Yanbu- you should take it further
To be honest save your sanity and forget about it. I have experienced a colleague like this and each time she failed to have a ridiculous grievance upheld she upped the anti and came out with a more ridiculous one. Hopefully your organisation will deal with her appropriately and eventually get rid of her. She really isn't worth expending any more energy on.
Do you have an HR department ? My immediate reaction would yes I would want to defend myself against false personal allegations , I would be really angry . What about ACAS ? Could they advise you ?
She is bitter and barmy. Your experience of having gay friends and colleagues is irrelevant. What sort of business is it, are you in a Union or have HR who can help you deal with this. She is bullying and harrassing you making up false allegations which HR need to address.
Let her run the course of the complaints process.
Let someone else hear the complaint and decide they are lying. If she continues with vexatious complaints the company may wish to take action against her themselves.
Don't waste your time on this when there is something else going on here. Work can sort it without you spending your own time on it.
Defamation is very, very expensive.
Forget about and move on.
It’s not defamation if it’s said privately as is the case here. It’s in a closed complaints process, not a national newspaper or out loud at a party.
Yes, I think you should go at her and show her you won’t accept this, or she will just carry on making up more and more outlandish lies.
How many more times can she appeal and keep bringing these claims ? She must be almost at the end of the process ?
She has put in her initial grievance, in which I was not mentioned. The HR department found no basis for it. She appealed this, and on the appeal, she has included me. The hearing manager found no basis for it. She has appealed again, and the company have now hired an external HR consultant to hear the grievance to ensure impartiality. I don’t know where this will go next 🤷♀️
Sounds very mich like the external HR will conclude that this is yet another vexatious claim. Honestly don't worry yourself over it. This is what she wants. She probably knows she can't win but wants to cause as much trouble as she can.
Stay strong, it will all catch up with her no doubt.
I would say forget about it for your own peace of mind.
It’s very, very difficult to successfully make a case for defamation in the U.K., especially for something like this. I think it would cost you a lot of money and not get you anywhere.
I’m sure this complaints procedure will run its course and you will be cleared of any wrongdoing. If she then raises a further complaint, you would be entitled to make one of your own stating that she’s using the complaints procedure to harass you.
I’m sorry you’re dealing with this - it sounds really stressful.
There is no proof of her allegation so it will be her that comes across as a vindictive liar. I would maybe ask your union for advice though if you have one or a lawyer, because although the other allegations are maybe breaking employment law, she might be accusing you of a hate crime if she is saying you were saying horrible stuff directly to someone, or discrimination against protected characteristic, and that is just another level to accuse someone of that rather than just bullying! I think for normal slander and defamation you might have to prove that it has negatively affected you eg you've been harassed yourself as a result of the allegations, or lost work, to pursue a claim for compensation. But I'm not sure what happens if someone has accused you of something effectively illegal (which is why i would think external HR has been brought in?) so I think you need legal advice about what if any next steps to take
I think a better option would be to talk to HR and ask them to write and advise her not to make further unsubstantiated claims about you. After all they have a duty of care for you just as much as the individual making the claims
They would do this if the independent HR professional does not uphold the grievance, which is very likely from what you have said.
Two appeals is unusual but your HR seem to be following a proper process which whilst difficult for you Is the right way to go.
After this the next course of action for her would be to go to an ET but her case would be very week if your HR have acted correctly.
This fails several tests to be defamation so you’d be as well taking thousands of pounds and setting them on fire instead.
I know it must be very troubling to hear this but if she’s a known vexatious complainer you have that in your favour. Perhaps a raise a grievance re false allegations.
As PP said if she tries again, raise grievance re harassment.
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File a counter-complaint immediately regarding her spurious allegations. Tell your HR team that if they’re not prepared to do anything about her, you’ll be consulting a solicitor.
You can't do anything about defamation but I would consider a counter grievance because of the impact her vexatious action is having on your mental health and ability to carry out your role effectively.
HR need to be asked EXACTLY what they are going to do to support YOU.
They must have a duty of care to you.
I'd go to your HR department and say that her vexatious complaints are now amounting to harassment of you.
Ask your union or HR but I think you can put in a grievance yourself on the basis that she is lying about you. Defamation os probably the nuclear button - I'd try and resolve it internally. If she's that much of a trouble maker, HR should be very happy to help you!
1. Yes, this is defamation.
2. Yes, you could sue her for defamation.
3. No, nothing will happen to you. She has no proof, never mentioned it before and sounds barmy.
3. No, it's not worth suing her over - mainly because nothing will come of this.
My advice is that once this issue is dealt with, ask for written confirmation that you have been cleared of all wrongdoing. If the member of staff involved (the supposed lesbian who is actually straight) and your employer are both happy for you to do so, ask her for a statement to say she's never felt discriminated against by you and that this woman is barmy.
This is just to cover yourself in case a future employer asks if you've ever had any investigations into your conduct - it's rare that they ask and usually will be satisfied that you've been cleared but it's nice to know you have proof that you're all good just in case.
@Euclid I appreciate the comment but I don’t understand how critiquing my grammar is relevant here.
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