I recently given notice at my current employer and my supervisor is telling my colleges to tell people I am leaving because I can not handle the responsibilities of my job. This is completely not true. I have had my current job for 12 years and I can handle it just fine. I am leaving because I was offered a better opportunity at another company. Can he do this? For the record I was not asked to leave and have made this decision on my own.
In real life, there are not that many successful lawsuits for defamation. However, threatening a lawsuit can be effective for reaching your desired result, which is for your supervisor to stop saying negative and untrue things about you and, perhaps, to give you a positive reference. Your best strategy may be to report your supervisor to his or her supervisor, in writing, saying that you are prepared to take legal action if the behavior does not stop immediately. Here's some information about defamation:
In law, issuance of false statements about a person that injure his reputation or that deter others from associating with him. Libel and slander are the legal subcategories of defamation. Libel is defamation in print, pictures, or any other visual symbols. A libel plaintiff must generally establish that the alleged libel refers to him or her specifically, that it was published to others (third parties), and that some injury occurred as a result. Slander is defamation by oral communication, which may be what you are facing. An action for slander may be brought without alleging and proving special injury if the statement has a plainly harmful character, as by imputing to the plaintiff criminal guilt, serious sexual misconduct, or a characteristic negatively affecting his business or profession.
If your supervisor does not immediately stop his or her behavior, you should contact a Massachusetts attorney who is experienced in employment law. Good luck!
Employment / Labor Attorney
That could easily be defamation. You should contact an attorney for assistance sending a cease-and-desist letter.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
This could be defamation. You should speak with a local employment attorney in more detail about the facts of your case. I practice in Wisconsin, where there are three elements to a defamation claim: statements which (1) are false, (2) are communicated by speech to a third person, and (3) tend so to harm the reputation of another as to lower the person in the estimation of the community or deter others from associating or dealing with the person. In Wisconsin, the conduct you described is "defamation per se", which is actionable without proof of harm or damages (a typical requirement to file a lawsuit), because it affects you in your business, trade, profession, or office.