Coworker Spreading Rumor I Am Unethical

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about badmouthing coworker: I might lose my contract. I can prove that these rumors are all wrong because there is no connection. I also can prove that my Lead did nothing about it. Is there anything I can do legally?

I joined an organization in October as a contractor and was put on a project. One of my coworkers had issues with the manager of this project. Finally, after doing a very poor job, he was asked to give his work to me and dismissed from this project and put on another one and also given a warning of dismissal. After this behaviour he started blaming me for his dismissal from the project and also blamed me for the warning he got from his manager regarding his dismissal from project.

Unfortunately, after completion of this project , I was put again on a project with him. There were other coworkers too.There is another thing which happened on the side. It seems the manager whom he had problems with and also who gave me his work was fired because he was found to violate some code of ethics of the organization. He was involved in some business where he hired people from his own company(which he had as a side business) and which harmed the organization’s interests.

I had never known him before or hardly interacted with him unless I had problems in my project. In the meantime, since my coworker blamed me, he and some other coworkers started subtly harassing me related to work in this new project. They would not pass information, passed the wrong information to me(I have some conversations in my mailbox which can prove it.) I told my Project Lead this was happening and she said she will keep her eyes open and maybe we should give them some time. I told her out the fact that the code becomes messy and there is rework to do which affects my performance, especially when I am passed wrong information. She did not do anything about it.About a month after my manager’s dismissal, I came to know from some people that that my problem coworker was spreading a rumor about me, saying my husband and my manager, who was fired because of illegal hiring and me were very good friends and played soccer together. (Indirectly implying that I was hired because we were friends and not because of my abilities).

I had absolutely no connection to my manager nor did my husband and I can prove it. I saw people’s behavior change but could not figure out why. Now that I know, I consider it to be defamation. This rumor started affecting people’s behavior towards me and also towards my work. However, I have the written communication where I have told my Lead that people don’t reply to my emails and give wrong information. She again did nothing about it, but only told me to give them some time. Because of this, put together with previous accusations, I might lose my contract. I can prove that these rumors are all wrong because there is no connection. I also can prove that my Lead did nothing about it. Is there anything I can do legally? Please guide me as to what to do. Thanks,

Signed, Tired Of Being Defamed

Dear Tired Of Being Defamed:

I’m sorry but we aren’t attorneys and can’t provide legal advice, especially for a complex situation such as yours. You may want to talk to an attorney or at least ask for a free consultation, since your employment is based on a contract. Also, consider talking to the person who is responsible for your evaluation as a contractor. Find out exactly where you stand right now and if there are concerns you can correct. Don’t just talk to your Lead. Write a statement about the situation. Provide your proof and ask for an investigation of the rumors you think have created problems for you.All of that is just general advice however. It still doesn’t address the issue of protecting your job and your contract. For that you may need legal assistance or at least assistance by someone who knows your situation and knows all of the details.Best wishes to you during this challenging time.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.