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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44349
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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Work colleagues who I have worked with for sixteen years

Resolved Question:

work colleagues who I have worked with for sixteen years have put on a intermediary report that they are intimidated and fearful of me with no credibility or basis of such an accusation. The line manager conducting the meeting says there is no basis for these remarks and other staff that I work with along with as well as other staff from other employees have said that I am pleasant and helpful and have never in my professional or personal life shown aggressive or inappropriate behaviour towards anyone.
I hasten to add that I am in the public sector and the two members of staff making these remarks have no credibility within the company and they are female and I really worried about them tarnishing my good name and reputation. Is there a legal way to get the company to take this seriously
Submitted: 1 month ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today. What are you actually hoping to achieve?

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
I am really worried and concerned that the good reputation I have both with my present employer and previous employers that I am still in touch with will be destroyed with unfounded accusations which the line manager seems complicit. My enquiry is their any legal avenues I can take for this to be taking seriously
Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Can a defamation of character act be brought to this issue.
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

There are a couple of feasible options. First of all you should consider the internal grievance option. This is a formal internal complaint which brings the issues to the attention of the employer, requires them to investigate them and to take appropriate action. You can appeal the outcome if you are unhappy with it.

If the grievance fails to resolve matters and the issues continue and the employer does not take steps to deal with them, a constructive dismissal claim is then an option.

In terms of defamation, whilst this may appear to be a potential case of defamation (this includes libel if it is in written form, or slander if it is in oral form), such claims are extremely difficult to pursue. Many people are intent on suing for defamation without having any appreciation of the law behind them, so I will try and clear things up for you now.

First of all, certain conditions must be met for the statement to be classified as defamatory. These are:

1. The statement has to be untrue.

2. It must directly identify the complainant.

3. It must have been published, usually communicated to at least another person.

4. It must be in a form of words, which would tend to lower the claimant in the estimation of ‘right thinking members of society generally', expose the claimant to hatred, contempt or ridicule, or cause the claimant to be shunned or avoided.

5. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant.

Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has occurred, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is extremely complex and expensive. As this goes through the High Court, you would need the professional help of specialist defamation solicitors and the costs are undoubtedly going to run into the thousands right at the outset. Also there is no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally. So when you hear about defamation claims being made, these are usually pursued by big corporations or celebrities who have a public image to protect.

You must also consider whether the party alleged of making the defamatory statement can defend the claim. Even if you satisfy the criteria to prove the statement was defamatory it could be defended on a number of grounds, including by providing evidence that the statement was substantially true or an honest opinion.

There is of course nothing stopping you from contacting the other party and threatening them that what they have done amounts to defamation and that you will consider pursuing the matter further if they do not retract their statement. This could prompt them to reconsider their position, but I would not recommend that you actually proceed with a claim for defamation due to the issues highlighted above.

This is your basic legal position. I have more detailed advice for you in terms of the constructive dismissal option and how it can apply here, which I wish to discuss so please take a second to leave a positive rating for the service so far (by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars) and I can continue with that and answer any further questions you may have. Don’t worry, there is no extra cost and leaving a rating will not close the question and we can continue this discussion. Thank you

Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Hello, I see you have read my response to your query. Please let me know if this has answered your original question and if you need me to discuss the next steps in more detail? In the meantime please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 starts from the top of the page. The question will not close and I can continue with my advice as discussed. Thank you

Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 44349
Experience: Qualified Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
Ben Jones and 2 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 1 month ago.

Thank you. As mentioned this could potentially amount to constructive dismissal, which occurs when the following two elements are present:

· Serious breach of contract by the employer; and

· An acceptance of that breach by the employee, who in turn treats the contract of employment as at an end. The employee must act in response to the breach and must not delay any action too long.

A common breach by the employer occurs when it, or its employees, have broken the implied contractual term of trust and confidence. The conduct relied on could be a single act, or a series of less serious acts over a period of time, which together could be treated as serious enough (usually culminating in the 'last straw' scenario).

The affected employee would initially be expected to raise a formal grievance in order to officially bring their concerns to the employer's attention and give them an opportunity to try and resolve them. If the issues are so bad that the employee can't even face raising a grievance and going through the process, or if a grievance has been raised but has been unsuccessful, then they can consider resigning straight away.

If resignation appears to be the only option, it must be done without unreasonable delay so as not to give an impression that the employer's breach had been accepted. Any resignation would normally be with immediate effect and without providing any notice period. It is advisable to resign in writing, stating the reasons for the resignation and that this is being treated as constructive dismissal.

Following the resignation, the option of pursuing a claim for constructive dismissal exists. This is only available to employees who have at least 2 years' continuous service. There is a time limit of 3 months from the date of resignation to submit a claim in the employment tribunal.

An alternative way out is to approach the employer on a 'without prejudice' basis (i.e. off the record) to try and discuss the possibility of leaving under a settlement agreement. Under a settlement agreement, the employee gets compensated for leaving the company and in return promises not to make any claims against the employer in the future. It is essentially a clean break, although the employer does not have to agree to it so it will be subject to negotiation. In any event, there is nothing to lose by raising this possibility with them because you cannot be treated detrimentally for suggesting it and it would not be used against you.

Just to make a final, yet important point, that constructive dismissal can be a difficult claim to win as the burden of proof is entirely on the employee to show the required elements of a claim were present. Therefore, it should only be used as a last resort.

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