My question involves defamation in the state of: Florida
I've been at my job for 8+ years, always received glowing reviews, pay raises, etc. My boss was fired about 6 weeks ago, and has been replaced by a person who seems to hate me and want to replace me (and I don't know why).
She keeps telling me there are many complaints about me and my work from other employees, and says the company is in big trouble from my department with regards to the recent annual audit. She announces this publicly and dramatically, but refuses to tell me what the specific complaints are or what the audit problems are (there aren't any problems as far as I know).
Recently, I responded to an email saying I would like concrete examples of these complaints and audit issues, and she somehow interpreted it to mean that I was refusing to comply with my job expectations (this is not at all what I said, but maybe what she wanted to hear!). She immediately proceeded to email other staff members and outside consultants telling them that I am not complying with my job, and asked them for additional complaints about me over the last 8 years. She is also badmouthing me to other employees who are outside of my department, disclosing private conversations regarding my career goals, mocking me, and telling them she doesn't see me as director material. She claims I have turned down her offers for management training, which is false. She continues to propagate negative rumors about me, painting me into a bad employee, whereas the facts show I am doing everything asked of me and then some.
I am so disgusted about how she has treated me in her few weeks in this position, and she has literally poisoned my reputation in the office. I feel like I can't continue to work in that office after she has spread false rumors, and people are beginning to believe her. Some people aren't talking to me now, and I am getting 'looks' from others. The HR director is her crony, and also has been telling lies about my job performance.
I'm not sure what my options are. I want to give notice, but I don't want to waive any of my rights to take action if i leave on my own accord vs getting fired. I feel this is way beyond "my boss just doesn't like me" - I have printed evidence of her bashing me in order to undermine my credibility in the office. What should I do? Do I have a case of defamation?