Supervisors can discuss discipline with co-workers if the situation warrants and not fear a defamation lawsuit. As long as the discussion is necessary for a legitimate business reason, such asor squelching rampant and erroneous rumors, the employer won’t be liable. Otherwise, mum’s the word.
Recent case: Arthur Geddes sued American Airlines and an HR manager, alleging that both defamed him by discussing allegations he had made physical threats and implying he had been disciplined.
The problem started when Geddes and a co-worker argued. The co-worker claimed that Geddes threatened he’d “cut out his intestines.” The HR manager investigated and, in doing so, told upper-levelabout the allegations. She also interviewed Geddes, who didn’t admit to the threat but admitted he used language that wasn’t exactly “church talk.”
The HR manager suspended Geddes for the argument. Then, others began asking HR about the punishment. The HR manager told them she couldn’t give specifics because discipline was confidential, but did discussin general.
Geddes sued, but the Court of Appeals of Florida said neither American Airlines nor its HR manager had done anything wrong. Any internal discussions up the chain of command were privileged, and the general discussion about workplace violence wasn’t defamation because it didn’t discuss the alleged physical threat. (American Airlines v. Geddes, No. 3D05-737, Court of Appeals of Florida, 2007)
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/3383/good-news-discussion-of-discipline-that-doesnt-name-names-is-not-defamation "