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Defamation of character, advice needed please

(10 Posts)
legaladvice Wed 24-Sep-08 13:03:20

Ok to cut a long story short my dh works in a small town. he is the manager of a shop, likes his job, there is this member of staff who has been there for 10 years and she is not very good at her job and has been costing the company money due to her constant errors, my dh has gone through chats with her, and then as it didn't improve has started disciplimery action, she has now handed in her notice, but has been bad mouthing my dh to all the people in the shop and all the locals which think she is great, she has been telling people my dh has been bullying her, my dh has been with the company for 20 years and is very professional, he can not let this matter go, as he is getting dirty looks from local's and the area is hard to recruit at the best of times not to mention if work gets round that the boss is a so called bully.

He has been very clever in documenting everything, she has been a nightmare to work for and on file has various warning and also letters from staff about how she treats other members of staff.

We are not in a position where we have a bottomless pit of money, but have some savings, where do we stand legally and if we take her to court does she have to pay costs etc etc, we have several people happy to put in writing that she used the word bullying.

Any help would be great.

Freckle Wed 24-Sep-08 13:08:54

Defamation proceedings can be extremely expensive and there is no guarantee that you will win. Even if you do and the other party is ordered to pay your costs, you will not get back everything you pay out.

Personally I would let it go. People will forget about what she is saying soon enough and I'm sure there are other staff who can vouch for your dh.

schwotz Wed 24-Sep-08 13:09:35

Text taken from this site wisegeek dot com

"The main problem with proving defamation of character is the protection of free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. Courts generally agree that an opinion, no matter how malicious, is not the same as a stated fact. If the disgruntled customer had said "Don't eat at Joe's Cafe. I think the food is lousy and the chef is sick," then defamation of character would be difficult to prove. Other people can still form different opinions. Once the customer said "Don't eat at Joe's Cafe. I know the chef and he has AIDS," then a statement of fact has occurred and a claim of defamation of character can be pursued."

I am sorry you are going through this. I do not have legal knowledge, just google ability. Fingers crossed it gets resolved for you both.

schwotz Wed 24-Sep-08 13:18:30

I suspect the majority of the village will soon put it behind them when the next hot topic comes along. Some people often are more suspicious the more defensive you get and it therefore only draws more attention to the problem which might otherwise might just vanish. To take it further may make you both ill, and it will be costly.

Personally I too would let it go.

legaladvice Wed 24-Sep-08 13:18:45

thanks for your replies, hopefully things will resolve themselves, he is waiting to see if HR can write to her.

Cammelia Wed 24-Sep-08 13:20:27

I think your dh should ignore it and let it go. The local gossips will have moved on to someone/something else long before you get this to court. Its simply not worth the hassle or the money (especially if you lose). Rise above it.

FioFio Wed 24-Sep-08 13:21:14

Message withdrawn

mamhaf Wed 24-Sep-08 18:48:13

You don't have to let it go - judge how harmful it really is to his reputation, and if you feel strongly, see a solicitor and get the solicitor to send her a letter telling her to stop.

That wouldn't cost much, but I wouldn't pursue it any further as that could run into many thousands with no guarantee of success.

The First Amendment is US law, so wouldn't apply here.

In Britain, it is defamation to lower someone's reputation in the eyes of right-thinking people...especially if that's a professional reputation.

edam Wed 24-Sep-08 18:51:42

Advice to let it go is probably sound but mamhaf is right on both counts - no first amendment in the UK and, if the silly woman doesn't stop, a solicitor's letter might scare her off.

edam Wed 24-Sep-08 18:52:50

Actually if letting it go doesn't work, first thing should be dh taking her aside at work for a chat, pointing out that bad-mouthing his professional reputation is a very serious matter and could get her into a lot of trouble.

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