How Do You Prove Slander?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about spreading lies:

A parent in the school where I teach wrote a letter to a group of teachers which contains lies about me. How can I prove that this is slander?

Signed, Determined

Dear Determined:

You need to see an attorney about this matter. If you want to make a claim of slander or charge someone criminally with defamation, you will want an attorney anyway. (In some jurisdictions these claims are civil only and in others they can be criminal, so it varies) You can usually get a free consultation during which a paralegal or the attorney can tell you the kind of evidence you need to collect and if the lying statements rise to the level of slander. (“He’s cruel and insulting” is probably just an unfounded opinion or complaint. “He has done inappropriate things with children” would likely be defamatory.)

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One Team Member Gossips

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about gossip: The actual issue is A4 who is very talkative, often informs other employees not belonging to our department – all the happenings in our department – be if official or personal.

We are a team of 4 in Accounts department – let’s say A1, A2, A3, and A4. A1 – The Boss. A2, A3, A4 – coworkers of the same level reporting to A1. The actual issue is A4 who is very talkative, often informs other employees not belonging to our department – all the happenings in our department – be if official or personal. Talking about the official aspect, I’m very much depressed because of the constantly letting out all official information.

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What Can I Do?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about talk about another employee:

My manager called another employee on the phone and told them that I said something, which I did not say. What can I do about this?

Signed, Didn’t Say It

Dear Didn’t Say It:

You can talk with your manager and the employee to whom it was said. State that it must be a misunderstanding and firmly state that if the manager perceived that you said what you did not, that it was an unintentional misunderstanding. Obviously there is something going on between your manager and you, and now probably between that other employee and you. Possibly, you need to get clarification on who is supposed to do what and/or approve of something that is job related. You should have a job description in writing, but you three might need to have a head-to-head meeting to set things straight.

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Can Employee Be Questioned on Heresay?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about about  hearsay:

Can a supervisor question an employee on hearsay or is this a form of harassment?

Signed, To Question or Not To Question

Dear To Question or Not To Question:

You don’t say if you are the supervisor or the employee–but the answer is the same in either case: In your example, hearsay is something the supervisor hears from a third person about the actions of an employee. There are many times when a supervisor can question an employee based on something another employee reported. (A safety violation, being late, acting rude, talking about the boss and anything else an employee reports that the supervisor wants to find out more about.)

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Bad Review Based on Hearsay From Coworkers

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about hearsay and a performance review: My supervisor told me that she based it on what my co-workers said about me.

My supervisor has given me a less than adequate performance review. I was surprised because this would be inconsistent with my 13-year record of stellar performance reviews in other jobs. My supervisor told me that she based it on what my co-workers said about me. I know who those co-workers are, and my feeling is that they have the mindset of “we work harder than anyone else. No one else is as efficient as we are” regardless of the actual facts and statistics of the work they produce. I would like to express this to my supervisor without sounding like I’m gossiping or unable to get along with others. We’re having a meeting with my supervisor’s manager soon.

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Boss Gossip About Me

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss’s gossip:

What if you hear someone that is supposed to be over you gossiping about you to one of your peers? The superior did not ever get my side of the story, just the peer’s side. I heard negative things said about me by both of them. What now?

Signed, Target of Gossip

Dear Target of Gossip:

Hearing gossip about you obviously has caused you to be angry, and that is understandable. You asked: “What now?” What happens next hinges on your relationship with that superior and your peer. Apparently, what you have not described in your query is conflict with that peer. Right?

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Confidential Survey Not So Confidential?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about surveys:

The company a friend of mine works for was making a survey about some issues. They were promoting the survey and told all employees that it was confidential (the employees don’t have to write their names in the survey.) My friend answered all the questions and wrote a lot about each one, because he thought no one would know his identity. (He was afraid there would be retaliation against him if his identity was known.) After 2 or 3 days the HR manager called him and asked him about the information that he wrote on the survey questions! Is it right to say that something is confidential, then approach an employee about his answers?

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Reformed Worry Wart

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a worry wart  label:

I am a reformed worry wart. At work, I try to be mindful of what I say around my coworkers, and I have been mindful not to let my worries get the best of me. Yesterday, everyone around me responded to an email we all received. I said something to everyone, which I suppose is not my usual concern or deals with my work. Everyone told me not to worry about it, and they said it was none of my concern. Actually what had happened was that I was relaying a concern about the exact same topic from one of our colleagues, with whom I spoke to over the phone less than 5 minutes before. This dialogue made me realize that I have been branded a worry wart. How do I overcome this branding? I wasn’t even worried at all about the topic.

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Rumors and Lies

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about trust: Now, the department watches every move I make and emails back and forth when I am going into the supply room and they have someone patrol the area.

I began working on 1/5/09, I came into work on 1/06/09 and was shown to my desk by a coworker. So, I began cleaning out “the desk”. Inside one of the desk drawers, underneath paper and boxes there was a calender. I said, “Here is a calender.” No response from other co-workers. I took it out of the drawer and unwrapped it and placed it on my desk. The person that does the supply ordering for the office came and saw the calender on my desk and surprisedly stated, “There is the calender that I have been looking for”, I have been looking for it for days”.

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Gossip and How it Affects Perception of Coworkers

Question:

I am writing because I feel ashamed that I was involved in workplace gossip at one job that I had about three years ago. The reason this still stays with me is because while I was at that workplace I found myself becoming a mean person as a result of the gossip. Everyone participated in the gossip. Coworkers would often talk about each other behind their backs and then smile in each other’s faces. Interpersonal issues were never dealt with face to face by having a conversation and trying to resolve differences.

Well, I ended up doing something very mean to a coworker. It all started because our supervisor and I would work an hour alone together before other coworkers would arrive to start their shift. The reason why I worked alone with the supervisor for the hour was because I was filling in that time for another coworker who had gone on vacation. During the time my supervisor and I were alone in the store, she would often tell me about the shortcomings of another coworker. Any frustration she had with certain coworkers was voiced to me. I never really chimed in with an opinion; I mostly just listened to her complaints. After about a week of coming in early at the job and hearing her complaints while trying to focus on my tasks, I lashed out at a coworker whom the supervisor always criticized. To make matters worse, this coworker and I had actually been coworker buddies for a while. We would sometimes hang out together after work and go see a movie. I don’t know what got into me on that day when I lashed out at her. That morning before that coworker came in to start her shift, the supervisor had once again been criticizing her work performance. I guess the supervisor’s critical remarks really got to me because I started to view this coworker differently than I had before I started coming into work early.

Needless to say, I lost my friendship with that coworker. I realize that I only have myself to blame for that. Upon realizing that however, I thought a lot about the things that were being said about her by not only the supervisor but by other coworkers as well. They said some awful things about her. For example, one coworker would talk about this woman’s mood swings and the fact that she was on medication and how he always had to bare the brunt of her moods. Although she was taking medication, the coworker, who made this statement, only said what he said because this coworker would say something to him if he was irritating her, but I never saw her become angry with him. It felt like my mind was being poisoned to not like this woman, even though she and I had always gotten along fine before that incident. I read one question on your site in which someone felt like her coworkers were being brainwashed into not liking her, because one coworker was going around telling other employees negative things about her. The answer to that question was that people aren’t easily influenced to not like people simply because of one person’s ramblings. But I think that it is something that happens frequently. Sorry for the long rant, but I need to know how to deal with gossip in the workplace from now on, especially if it is one specific coworker who is being targeted. How do I not let workplace gossip influence my perception of the targeted coworkers? Thank you.

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