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  1. #1

    Default Co-Workers are Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed

    My question involves defamation in the state of: online / multi-State

    Our office has an internal chat / messaging app for employees on my team to use. "Our manager" routinely pops in an hollers at us in all caps, with lots of crazy emojis and sometimes profanity, which is a separate issue.

    My question is related to my co-workers repeating things on the message boards that I have told them privately. For instance I recently spoke with one of my co-workers offline about a disagreement I had with my roommates. I know I should probably not discuss that stuff with co-workers, and from now on I will not. The problem is that if that co-worker were to air this information about my living situation and my manager saw it, it could lead to be being seen in a negative light.

    I guess my question is: if a co-worker puts things on an internal yet "public" chat feed, can I do anything about it? Finally, what constitutes "private information"? For instance, is it ok to post any of the following about a co-worker:
    • marital status
    • living situations
    • educational background or current student status
    • health information


    If this person was to post stuff like that about me in the corporate chat feed, what can I do about it? Should I contact them privately and ask them to stop or report it directly to management? Thanks.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    if a co-worker puts things on an internal yet "public" chat feed, can I do anything about it?
    I'm sure you can do lots of things and that you know your abilities better than anyone here. The most obvious thing would be to speak with your supervisor and/or someone from human resources and/or whomever handles IT about having whatever information you don't like removed.

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    what constitutes "private information"?
    "Private information" is information that you keep to yourself or disclose only to persons who have a duty to you not to publicize the information. Things you tell your co-workers are generally not "private information."

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    For instance, is it ok to post any of the following about a co-worker:
    marital status
    living situations
    educational background or current student status
    health information
    What does "ok" mean? With the exception of health information, there are no legal restrictions on disclosing the information mentioned, and "health information" would only be restricted if covered by HIPAA. Do you work for a medical service provider of any sort? If "ok" means something other than "legal," then you'll have to explain what you're talking about.

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    Should I contact them privately and ask them to stop or report it directly to management?
    This question doesn't raise any legal issue. Logically, however, if you want someone to stop doing something, asking the person politely would seem an obvious thing to do.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    What does "ok" mean? With the exception of health information, there are no legal restrictions on disclosing the information mentioned, and "health information" would only be restricted if covered by HIPAA. Do you work for a medical service provider of any sort? If "ok" means something other than "legal," then you'll have to explain what you're talking about.

    OK meaning, if someone posts stuff like that and I don't want it posted, can I say to them "hey its illegal to post that about me online", or "hey, posting that information about me online in this forum could put you at risk of a lawsuit"? I'm trying to figure out what I can say if this information is shared. If someone trespassed on my property, I could say "hey, leave now, or I'll have you arrested for trespass." I don't know what to say or how to respond to this situation, thats all. I'm not trying to scare anyone, I just want to know what I can say.

    This question doesn't raise any legal issue. Logically, however, if you want someone to stop doing something, asking the person politely would seem an obvious thing to do.

    I know it wouldn't be a criminal thing, i.e. legal issue I assume? But in an employment situation if someone says something about you that puts you in a bad light with the boss and you get fired over it, can you have a slander or defamation case against that person?

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    You can say anything you like to them, just know that posting that information raises no legal, criminal or civil, claim against them.

    Defamation is defined as a false statement of fact, published to another person that causes you "damage" in the legal sense. If they are merely repeating what you told them or posted, it would not be defamation (slander or libel).

  5. #5

    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    Quote Quoting doucar
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    You can say anything you like to them, just know that posting that information raises no legal, criminal or civil, claim against them.

    Defamation is defined as a false statement of fact, published to another person that causes you "damage" in the legal sense. If they are merely repeating what you told them or posted, it would not be defamation (slander or libel).
    OK that makes sense.

    If I was in a bar and someone threw a punch at me, I could call the police and report it. Perhaps the police would charge the person with a crime, some kind of assault I suppose. I could say to this person, "Hey, I'm calling the police", and if they had any sense of the danger they were putting themselves in from the standpoint of possible criminal charges, they might think twice about trying to hit me again.

    In an employment setting, if someone was to make a "false statement of fact" about me in front of others, or on the company chat feed, what is the best thing to say? I obviously cannot call the police for that. I know some of you replying on this site are lawyers and forgive me for possibly sounding a bit dumb or naive, but I just don't know what to say. I'm looking for the best way to shut a big mouth up, if that makes any sense. I want to do it in a non-threatening, legal and polite way. I know that sounds like maybe I was raised by a wolf-pack or hillbillys or whatever...but I'm going to assume there are or have been times in many of our lives where we just don't know what to say and for me, this is one of them.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    The solution is to stay off the chat and keep your private information to yourself.

    Once it comes out of your mouth (or fingers) it is no longer private, no matter what it is or to whom you have given it.

    Two people can keep a secret if one of them is dead.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    What does "ok" mean? With the exception of health information, there are no legal restrictions on disclosing the information mentioned, and "health information" would only be restricted if covered by HIPAA. Do you work for a medical service provider of any sort? If "ok" means something other than "legal," then you'll have to explain what you're talking about.

    OK meaning, if someone posts stuff like that and I don't want it posted, can I say to them "hey its illegal to post that about me online", or "hey, posting that information about me online in this forum could put you at risk of a lawsuit"? I'm trying to figure out what I can say if this information is shared.
    You can say anything you like, even if the things you say are untrue.

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    This question doesn't raise any legal issue. Logically, however, if you want someone to stop doing something, asking the person politely would seem an obvious thing to do.

    I know it wouldn't be a criminal thing, i.e. legal issue I assume? But in an employment situation if someone says something about you that puts you in a bad light with the boss and you get fired over it, can you have a slander or defamation case against that person?
    When I previously wrote that your question about whether you should contact your co-workers privately to ask them to stop or report it directly to management does not raise any legal issue, I meant exactly that and was not limiting my statement to criminal issues. When I wrote that it doesn't raise any legal issue, I meant that you have no legal way of compelling these persons to refrain from the stated action.

    As far as slander/defamation, such a claim would require, among other things, a false statement of fact. According to you, the information being posted is true information that you disclosed yourself. Therefore, no defamation claim would be possible (FYI, slander is the spoken form of defamation).

  8. #8

    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    Quote Quoting pg1067
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    As far as slander/defamation, such a claim would require, among other things, a false statement of fact. According to you, the information being posted is true information that you disclosed yourself. Therefore, no defamation claim would be possible (FYI, slander is the spoken form of defamation).
    Understood. Repeating something I said, that is true - I get it that that does not meet any actionable criteria.

    Follow up question: Someone either in writing displayed to others or on a phone call in the presence of others or in a meeting room in the presence of others makes a false statement of fact about me. They accuse me of something that I have not done. They say that I live with someone I do not live with, or whatever. What is the best thing to say, in that moment, to that person? Or should nothing be said?

    Second follow up: If I lose my job because of someone else's false statement of fact, is that an actionable cause?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    OK that makes sense.

    If I was in a bar and someone threw a punch at me, I could call the police and report it. Perhaps the police would charge the person with a crime, some kind of assault I suppose. I could say to this person, "Hey, I'm calling the police", and if they had any sense of the danger they were putting themselves in from the standpoint of possible criminal charges, they might think twice about trying to hit me again.

    In an employment setting, if someone was to make a "false statement of fact" about me in front of others, or on the company chat feed, what is the best thing to say? I obviously cannot call the police for that. I know some of you replying on this site are lawyers and forgive me for possibly sounding a bit dumb or naive, but I just don't know what to say. I'm looking for the best way to shut a big mouth up, if that makes any sense. I want to do it in a non-threatening, legal and polite way. I know that sounds like maybe I was raised by a wolf-pack or hillbillys or whatever...but I'm going to assume there are or have been times in many of our lives where we just don't know what to say and for me, this is one of them.
    You would politely ask them to stop posting personal information about you in the chat room. Something like "I would appreciate it if you would stop posting personal information about me in the chat room". A threat of some sort, like you have been describing should never be a person's first step. A polite request that someone stop doing whatever it is should always be your first step. Then stop discussing any personal information with that person.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Co-Workers Posting My Personal Information on an Internal Chat Feed, What Can I D

    Quote Quoting gardening123
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    Understood. Repeating something I said, that is true - I get it that that does not meet any actionable criteria.

    Follow up question: Someone either in writing displayed to others or on a phone call in the presence of others or in a meeting room in the presence of others makes a false statement of fact about me. They accuse me of something that I have not done. They say that I live with someone I do not live with, or whatever. What is the best thing to say, in that moment, to that person? Or should nothing be said?

    Second follow up: If I lose my job because of someone else's false statement of fact, is that an actionable cause?
    The state that you're in matters, as defamation/libel/slander laws differ by state. However, just because someone states something that isn't true, ie, you live with someone when in fact you don't, doesn't mean it would rise to the level of defamation. Now, if someone said you stole from the company and you were fired, THEN you may have grounds.

    That said: you are dealing with nothing more than gossip. It's a problem as old as time. The more you make a fuss of it, the longer the gossip will be "hot." You can politely ask the person to stop, but you have no "leverage" to MAKE them do so. And going to management will just make you look like you're still in high school. The absolute best thing you can do is ignore it.

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