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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 50459
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I have been working as a temp for an employment agency based

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I have been working as a temp for an employment agency based in the warehouse of a large online retailer. In December I was appraised by a trainer of the online retailer and was told that I had passed.The trainer had written some very misleading and defamatory statements about me, which were totally incorrect. I verbally appealed and did not accept the feedback.Days later I heard from a colleague of another employment agency in the warehouse that my appraisal mark was below pass, that I had failed and had been removed from my job by the trainer (not my line manager)The full appraisal with its incorrect statements had been shared with members of the agency that I worked for, another agency that I had no connection with and the retailer.I raised a grievance, but heard nothing. I am currency on sick leave since the event in late December.I understand that I have little to no rights as a temporary employee (just over 12 weeks), but feel there is a case of libel and breach of confidence.HR have contacted me today asking what kind of result I expect, with no actual suggestions. I feel that with all this I am entitled to some kind of compensation, possibly through a compromise agreement, but my career with the online retailer has been very much stunted at best. I am very reluctant to go back and currently suffering with major anxiety and panic attacks.

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

Have you discussed this with the agency at all and if so, what was the outcome?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Hi Ben
I'm not sure if this is really an employment issue or defamation. I have attached the files with all the details. I raised it immediately after it happened and heard nothing back until today
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
As a temp I don't believe I am entitled to much if anything under employment law, but its a defamation and confidentiality issue overall
.

OK, thank you for your response. Leave it with me for now and I will review the relevant information and laws and get back to you at the earliest opportunity. There is no need to wait here as you will receive an email when I have responded. Also, please do not respond to this message as it will just push your question to the back of the queue and you may experience unnecessary delays. Thank you.

Thanks for your patience. You are correct that from an employment law perspective your rights are rather limited and you will not be able to challenge the termination or how they have handled this.

From a breach of confidence view, this is not illegal in any way as there is no actual breach of confidentiality which can be pursued.

This leaves us with 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 rather difficult to pursue. Many people are keen on suing for defamation without having full appreciation of the law or practicalities in doing so. I will try and clarify the position below.

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

1. There has to be a defamatory statement - the assessment that is often used to establish this is whether the statement tends to lower the claimant in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally

2. Its publication has caused or is likely to cause serious harm to the reputation of the claimant – this will vary based on what effect it will have but it really has to be something sufficiently serious

3. The statement has been published by the defendant to a third party

4. The claimant must prove that the words complained of were published about him - this should not be an issue if the claimant is named or clearly identified.

Whilst it may be easy to prove that defamation has taken place, the legal process of pursuing such a claim is often complex and prohibitively expensive. A claim must be made in the High Court and will likely require the help of professional defamation lawyers, so the costs will often be high right from the outset, usually in the thousands. There is also no legal aid available for such claims so the complainant must fund these personally.

You must also consider whether the publisher of the statement can potentially defend the claim. For example this can happen by proving the statement was true or an honest opinion which could have been made based on the available facts.

Instead of starting legal proceedings it would be best to contact the publisher of the comment, advise 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 and issue an apology. This could prompt them to reconsider their position, which would avoid the need for court action. Of course, if they refuse to comply the option of suing still exists, but consider the above information before going down that route.

I trust this has answered your query. Please take a second to leave a positive rating by selecting 3, 4 or 5 stars above - this is an important part of our process and recognises the time I have spent assisting you. If you still need me to clarify anything else, please reply on here and I will assist as best as I can. Thank you

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Dear Ben
Thank you for your response. You certainly have given me a better understanding of the situation.Did you read the attachment that I sent? I was clearly identified, the document declared that I was to cease my role as coach and undertake a lower paid less responsible role and the message presented me as a liar and accused me of dereliction of duty. The message would at least prevent any kind of career progress taking place as a stored/filed document if I applied for promotion, this would immediately halt any progress.I have also been sick for the last monthI have at last (after a month) got the attention of HR. They have asked me if I would like to pursue and grievance and what kind of outcome I would expect.I am certainly pursuing a grievance, but not sure what to ask for as the outcome. I am trying to put it in their hands. However I will ask that the appraisal is rewritten with an admission of error and shared among management.Also that my sick leave is paid as it was as a direct result of a deliberate action of an employee.I believe that I should be entitled to something extra aswell due to the circumstances, including the fact that it has taken a month to hear any response.Would it be appropriate to ask for a compromise agreement with a month or two of ex gratia salary to compensate? Would it fit or too high/too low? I just feel really loathed to walk away and forget about it.Thank you
Trevor

Thanks I did see the attachment. I would still very much say that defamation is unlikely to be the solution here. It is highly unrealistic.

Whilst there is nothing stopping you from asking for some financial compensation, if they know the true legal position or have taken advice on it, they are quote likely to refuse that knowing that your chances of taking it further and successfully claiming anything are rather low.

So in effect you have nothing to lose by at least trying your luck and hoping that they will agree to it. I would not ask for sick pay and extra compensation on top - that will likely be too much. Stick to one ground, like an extra month or two’s pay but also bear in mind that they could quite easily reject it and taking it further will unlikely allow you to claim from them so give it your best shot now as that may be the best opportunity you have, which would still be discretionary

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thanks Ben
That's really helpful, I appreciate that

You are welcome, all the best