My question involves defamation in the state of: California
A store employee ("Joe") had a history of following a customer around the store for over a year and out into the parking lot after she left under the guise of getting her cart back. The customer ignored this behavior until the employee followed her to the far end of the shopping complex, again under the pretext of getting her cart back. The incident made the customer nervous and fear for her safety.
As she felt sufficiently threatened by his behavior, the customer called the employer and complained about Joe to the store manager. The manager ("Betty") called Joe in to talk to him about the complaint and he denied that he had ever stalked the customer, and insisted that he had merely wanted to get the cart back. The manager let it go after a warning, and considered the matter as "closed".
The customer avoided the store for over a month. When she finally did go in, she was nervous and asked ANOTHER employee ("Sandra") if Joe was in the store and if he still worked there. When Sandra asked the customer why she wanted to know this, the woman blabbered that Joe had a history of stalking her every time she was in the store and following her out to her car when she left (always under the pretext of getting her cart back), and had only finally complained about him when he had followed her to a far and lonely end of the shopping complex, that Joe made her uncomfortable and that she just didn't want to run into him in case there was a "problem". Sandra confirmed that Joe still worked at the store and that he was off for the day and then gossiped about the incident to all of her (and Joe's) co-workers. Joe was ridiculed / laughed at as a "creepy stalker".
An enraged Joe then approached Betty (the manager) and accused her of sharing - in his opinion - a FALSE customer complaint with the other employees and turning the workplace into a hostile environment. Betty had not shared the customer complaint with anyone but Joe (due to employee confidentiality / privacy) although she had warned Joe to not follow or otherwise harass the customer again.
Does Joe have a case for defamation against the customer ? Against the manager ? Against Sandra, his gossipy co-worker ?