Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

How to Deal With Slander in the Workplace

If you work or have worked in an office setting, then you know that there are times when the entire office is buzzing with some kind of news. Be it that Jon has found a new job and is going to leave or that the manager you all share is rude and unprofessional. Gossip in the office isn’t always negative, but at its core it is unproductive and can really break a team down. Especially when gossip takes an evil turn and morphs in to slander. Slander in the workplace can really deter an employees work, their productivity and their happiness at work. More importantly, it can be a huge liability and issue for the company seeing as though, if pushed hard enough, the employee being slandered can take legal action. That is why gossip, and more specifically slander, must to be dealt with in the office right away.

For clarification purposes, let’s just differentiate between these two things here. By definition, gossip is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true.” Somewhat similar is slander, which is defined as “the action or crime of making a false spoken statement damaging to a person’s reputation.” In its defense, gossip is usually harmless chatter that is passed from one person to another. There can be gossip that an office romance has sparked up between two employees in the department. While it may be harmless at the root, if this gossip is not addressed it can take a nasty turn. Someone in the office may dislike one of these two lovebirds and can sprout up a lie and say they saw Becky and Patrick getting busy in the janitor closet during work. Of course, this is just an example I sprouted up, so it’s more lighthearted than the possible reality.

Not only did this employee just completely lie, but the lie they sprouted could really harm the other employee’s job. If a manager catches wind of this, which is likely the goal of the employee that created the lie, then it can mean trouble for Becky and Patrick. You see how gossip can quickly morph into slander? Perhaps most important is the fact that slander is a civil act. This means that the person who is creating and spreading the lies can be sued. Unfortunately, they cannot be criminally charged. That action is saved for libel cases, which is when slanderous or false comments are put in writing or in visual material.

Since slander is oral and is not written down on paper, it can be really difficult to prove someone is making slanderous comments about you. If you take a cue from the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center, they say to first write a letter to the employee that is doing the slander and ask them to stop. It’s best to get it in writing so it can be proved that you made an attempt to stop the slander. It’s also better to avoid confrontation since what this person has said is probably hurtful and can raise a lot of emotions. Approaching someone in an emotional state is not the best idea- especially in the workplace. It’s also a good idea to inform your employer what is going on. That way, they are aware of its existence and should take actions to make it stop. That is, if they are a good manager.

If you have a Human Resources department, it’s a good idea to contact them as well right from the start. That way, they know the situation and can keep tabs on what is going on. However, the best way to combat slander in the workplace is to prevent it from happening in the first place. That is why it is so important for managers and superiors to squash gossip right from the get go. Of course, it’s impossible to squash all gossip and a lot of it is really harmless, but the negative gossip is what you have to watch out for. It is too easy for negative gossip to take an evil turn, and before you know it you can have a big conflict on your hands. Not to mention a possible legal conflict.

As an employee and a coworker, it’s best not to engage in gossip at all. While it may be interesting and you may want to hear the juicy details of so and so’s whatever, it’s not pertinent to your work and it cuts back on your productivity. The best advice I can give is to say hi around the water cooler, but keep your mouth shut otherwise.

Have you experienced or witnessed slander in the workplace? What was the outcome? I want to hear about it! Sound off in the comments of tweet me @nicole_spark.

SOURCE: Small Business
IMAGE: Courtesy of Power to Change

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter


  • Small intro, My name is Sarah & I am 30 years old. I am the assistant manager at a retail store. I have worked at this same store for over 7 years. We got a new store manager about 3 years ago. We have had our ups and downs in terms of getting along because he likes to play favorites and likes to gossip about everyone in the company ( a lot ).
    About 10 months ago it came to light that he was talking negatively about me to other employees, especially new employees we had just hired. The employees felt bad that this stuff was being said about me and came to me with it. They didn’t know me well at all yet so I felt respected that they cane to me, however it made me feel awful that my manager was saying horrible things about me, stripping me of my dignity and possibly losing the respect of the new employees who i was training and working with on a daily basis.
    He was/is telling them that I am a terrible sales person, that I flirt with customers and that’s the only reason I make sales. He told one employee that I have an eating disorder.
    He told another employee that I was sleeping with a co worker who I had made friends with.
    He has attempted to re hire an ex employee that harassed me 6 months ago via txt and verbally attacking me at work (which was a result of my boss becoming close with her and they became gossip buddies talking negatively about me & others at work.)
    I told my regional manager about the harassment from this employee (which I had txt msgs to prove)
    He said he would not hire her back for this reason, for which I am grateful for.
    It has been increasingly clear to me that my boss (who is in his mid 60’s) is trying to find reasons to fire me, write me up, give me bad evaluations, and very obviously he has been trying to make me want to quite.
    He is now stealing sales from me and doing anything possible to push me out. I fear he is trashing My reputation not only with employees but also with clients i work with. I can’t prove that is happening, though at this point i put nothing past this person. He has proved to me he is a snake, a liar, a dictator and narcissist. To me this is slander, am I correct?
    My question mainly is can I go to HR with what information I have?
    Can something be done about this bad boss behavior?
    I’ve no idea what to do or who to turn to. Everyday is a struggle to work with this Manager. I have tried to talk with him about small issues before and he immediately snaps back with an attack on me that never has anything to do with the subject or question. It’s like he’s not even listening to what I am saying or asking, he just hears something negative towards him so he attacks before you can even have a conversation at all. it’s very frustrating.
    I’m at wits end at this point. I have started searching other job options but am sad that I will probably have to end up leaving even though I will be so sad to leave this place I loved working at before the company let a bully in.
    I’m so desperate for advice if I should go to HR or my regional manager first, or if I should take another sort of action.
    Please Help :(

  • I had a co-worked say i physically threaten her. I ask HR to call in the police to investigate. I never did what this women said I did. In a formal hearing with HR I was found guilty. Her original witness backed out and instead she enlisted the guy who worked for her. I was suspended and lost a few weeks pay. Is there anything legally i take action against this women for doing this to me?

  • I am being called a thief and buy 2 collegues over girl scout cookies because I didn’t pay her the 1st day and a half that I returned to work. My defimation of character is being attacked. What can I legally do to stop them?

  • Well I was part of the slander on my workplace that in the end resulted in me getting fired. In 23 day I would be leaving my workplace that I put so hard work in to. I was there for 4 years. And I am angry. Cause people that I worked under totally misunderstood my comments, and I am kind of disappointed cause after 4 year they should have know what kind of person I am. At the moment I am full of anger, disappointed and strangely relief, cause last year was a hell for me. I came to the company 4 years ago as the only female, and it was hard, not only cause I was the only female, but cause they had certain mistrust cause 3 weeks before, half of the company left the job and created their own company (I guess it was kind of a bad sign) but I came full of optimism thinking I would be working with a friend from my University. Later did I know that she was one of the people that left, and my boss lied to me that I would be working with her (well every time I asked and talked about how we worked well at Uni he never said she left). The next year years where ok, regular work stuff, nothing special, I kind of wish I had a little bit more freedom, but I understood why they are like that, and I was fine with growing slowly. But then we hired 3 new females in the company. I actually was pretty happy about it, cause the only female beside me we had was on maternity leave. The one that I got to mentor in my office, I thought would be a cool girl, but ended up like, a total asshole. Before she came she work for the people that attend school with me, that she badmouthed both personally and professionally, but I didn’t think much of it, cause I thought bad experience, and in the end we all disagree at one point with our bosses. After a 2 months when she was there, one of my close colleagues stopped talking to me for no reason, and became best buds with her and her sister (yes we hired two sisters). After that on our school reunion, I saw her ex bosses, that when I without thinking said that she is working at my company, thinking it wouldn’t be a negative response, I got a rain of be afraid of her, cause she will lie, and she is good at it, good in to tricking people believing her. I said yes I see you have bad blood, and quickly changed the subject. In the morning this all might look I was picking in to the hornets nest I tolled here that I saw them without any other saying. Two weeks after that she went to my boss and tolled I was sabotaging her, spreading lies to her old bosses. I didn’t know what do do or react. She and here sister made such a big drama. I was pissed that I was labeled as a monster. I called on of the ex bosses on a speakerphone to clear ma name, and she said that doesn’t have anything to do with me but my boss didn’t care, and asked me to apologize for the drama, and stress I caused, which I in the end did being pressured form my family and my boss. I kind of wish I didn’t. My bosses reason why I did it cause on mentors meeting meaning I said that I am jealous of the new juniors cause they had it way better when I came (actually I was a guinea pig), and that i wish the situations was this good when I came. After that I must say I did rant about her. I tried to patch up the thing with her. And it all kid of worked well, till the day when we two where pulled out to go and buy gift for our bosses birthday, we where shopping for 4 hours in which she put out that she know that I have less paycheck then her, and that I a stupid to work for our company (which I know I am cause I am a quite mouse, and pretty emotional, cause I love what I do), she said a bunch of illegale stuff she found out form other coworkers, who else has what kind of paycheck (you see how little I knew at all) how some people are planing to report our boss. And a lot of personal slander. After 4 hours she realized what she said, and that I was listening, at that point she started to threaten me, that my rest of the cowers stopped talking to me cause I was bosses snitch. I still have some of those threats on my FB. After that no one in the company talked to me. Some coworkers I was pretty closed with said that I caused them to be fired, other said that I slandered them. I tried to talk to them, but no one would respond. I was shut down. In 3 weeks I got promoted, then put on a probation period cause I was molesting people in which like a first graded I was forbidden to communicate with anyone in the office (and I mean not a single world) and I needed to wear headphones all the time. And week after that after my dog like obedience, my boss took me outside on the street and fired. In the period I was on the headphones I recorded the slander that was going on inside the office. I have about 16 hours, is which she is showing of how she managed to get me fired. I was thinking of showing all this to my boss, but as he treated me I said no, she will do this to someone else one day, and the he would have again problems maybe even bigger. And in some ways I think he should cause no one believed me, didn’t even consider listening or talking or acting like appropriate mediator. The only thing I am worried that this slander and me doing nothing about it would cause me not to get job again somewhere else. The only thing I am planing is to sue her, but I don’t thing I have enough evidence.

  • I have been on my job for 7 1/2 years. I love my work, however there is a very clear divide between management and frontline staff. I am constantly feeling stressed and uncomfortable due to negative comments that have been made about me. I feel as though I am targeted as the “angry black woman”. I was told by a peer once, that the acting ED at the time referred to me as “difficult”. I asked the acting ED during evaluation, if she had indeed referred to me as difficult? She stated that she may have, but that she didn’t mean it in a bad way. She went on to praise my work. I have had my direct supervisor tell me that I cannot discuss my feelings regarding work issues with co workers because it is gossiping. She also in the same conversation referred to my actions as stupid. I feel scared and anxious on a daily basis because of the personal attitudes that some upper management cliques have regarding me. By the way, I have been the told weekly that my actual job performance exceeds expectations. Not sure how I should be moving forward

  • I recently had a heart attack scare at work. The paramedics were called and I was taken to the hospital. I am a lead teacher with an assistant teacher. when the attack started I asked my assistant (who is not my normal assistant) to lead for awhile. I contacted my boss and she called the aid car. my children where removed from my classroom, and where not able to see the goings on. A assistant WHO WAS NOT THERE AT ANY POINT… told several people in my school that I was a drug addict and I was speaking incoherently during the episode. I’m sure her comments have spread like wildfire, but i’m not sure as this happened on Thursday and I haven’t returned to work yet…. Is this slanderous?

  • I reported an assistant manageress for always being on my back and making me do all the work, she was known as a bully towards certain younger men. In the end I reported her and since then her and some of the people who work below her have started spreading lies about me and one person there has even wrote something to our area manager to try and get me into trouble with higher status. What are my rights as a volunteer when work staff are spreading such lies about me and they are also trying to get me into further trouble. Do I have a right to get them sacked at all?

  • A coworker keeps going to my boss and fellow workers complaining how I run things I am the lead. He claims I single him and give him more work then the others. Which is not true he makes the most mistakes mostly HIPAA related which can be serious. No matter how I tried to instruct him on the correct ways things should be done he keeps bad mouthing me to other employees. I have discussed this with my boss but it doesn’t stop and it is taking a toll on me and the other members of our team. How can I stop this from continuing?

  • I recently made the mistake of dating a co-worker for 2 months. I ended the relationship 5 days ago because he wanted me to move in with him & leave my sick, disabled, elderly mother alone in a home that she could never afford on her own. Another reason was because he constantly accused me of flirting with my male co-worker (the women on my shift don’t speak any English so I can’t communicate with them). I go to work on Monday & find out that a neighbor of mine, who recently started working with my ex-boyfriend, had told him what cars were in my driveway, who was at my house, everything he could see from his front porch. Mind you, I broke up with this guy on Friday so what I do after that is none of his business or concern. Now my ex is standing around at work, gossiping with my neighbor (whom I don’t even know) saying that I cheated on him the entire time we were together, that I’m sleeping around with multiple people, that I spent the entire weekend with another man… This man has been a FRIEND for over 20 years & is just that, a friend. These rumors & gossip are causing stress & anxiety for me at work because the man I dated has done this to other women at work, has a file of write-ups 2″ thick but they will not fire him because the company would lose money. They have no one else that can do his job as well, fast or efficiently. He laughs that they won’t fire him, that he gets his way there & has had multiple people fired. I have no idea what to do. I don’t want either of us to be fired or anything but his mouth is tarnishing my reputation at work. It was already bad because he’s considered the bad boy of the