Right to Privacy or Defamation of Character

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a coworker breakup: He posted company and private e-mail to a 50-page power point presentation with page after page of e-mail.

A co-worker and I were dating. He broke up with me, and he designed a power point presentation about my supervisors and me. He posted company and private e-mail to a 50-page power point presentation with page after page of e-mail. The presentation was sent to upper management and business partners. He is a federal employee. Do I have defamation of character and right to privacy case?

Signed, Do I Have A Case?

Dear Do I Have A Case?:

You might have a case. Our site answers replies to workplace questions that are communication- related. We do not provide legal advice or counsel. However, I shared your question with an attorney and her brief answer is: “Yes, this person should most definitely consult an attorney.”

This behavior by a co-worker, who broke up with you, from here, strikes me as vengeful and inappropriate to say the least. The contents of the PowerPoint will determine if he has defamed you; falsely, maliciously, inappropriately harmed your reputation within this place of employment and/or your career. The fact that he sent e-mails (without your permission) that undoubtedly are intended to lower upper management’s opinion of you, in itself seems to me to breach privacy and might be is libelous.

Consult an attorney or two who deal with defamation cases and labor issues.I would not make this a matter of gossip with other co-workers or outside your workplace; however, I think you would be wise to meet with Human Resources to inform them of your dismay and to request a formal investigation. Probably your superior also is unhappy with what your co-worker did, and you have conferred with her/him already.

Stay professional, maintain your cool,and log what has and will happen; noting dates, what was said to you, and who witnessed it. Meanwhile, go about your assigned tasks and prove your worth to your agency, contracting company and/or government employer. Mixing dating with one’s work inevitably happened, and when it sours, unfortunately, bad can go to worse. As much as possible, avoid this individual. Do not allow him to stage an argument or reconciliation with you–while at work personal matters distract and are out of place. If he invades your territory in any way that distracts you from your work, ask him to leave. If he does not, immediately go to your superior and ask his/her assistance. If you need moral support, confide in a close friend or Personnel Assistance.

Guard against becoming obsessed with it. In short, get legal help now and psychological help as needed, but don’t talk it to death. Can you keep a positive mental attitude? Others have in times of stress and so can you. The very way you carry your self; head held high, staying focused on your assignments, being pleasant to all; will influence how you feel about yourself and how others see you. Working together when things are difficult is not easy. Think for a moment about my motto: working together with hands, head and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. If that is your focus, you will make it through this, and hopefully will teach that man not to impugn your good name.

William Gorden