Possible defamation by former co-worker

At work, I've always had positive relationships, getting great marks professionally and personally. Recently I applied for a position at a company where many people know me and initially, they were excited to hear from me. Then they stopped returning calls and emails. I can understand if they hired someone else, but it is out of character for them to not return phone calls or respond to emails.

The only explanation I can think of was that my reputation was smeared by someone, and I believe I know who that was. He is abusive, and while everyone else said nothing, I stood up to him a few times, saying his behavior was abuse in the workplace. I'm certain he hates me, and while that's a strong word it's accurate.

This man was universally disliked by everyone he worked with and he has business contacts at the company where I applied to work.

Considering that I've always been respected and well liked, the only possible explanation I can think of is that this man lied about me. Instead of simply verifying dates of employment, I imagine he said some pretty bad things.

What sort of case might I have? I was well liked and respected by everyone except this one man, and he was universally hated.

I have no direct knowledge that he said anything at all to ruin my chances of employment with a new company, but *something* dramatic happened to cause their attitude toward me to change 180 degrees, and I can't imagine what else it could be.

Realistically, is this the type of case a lawyer would like, or does it depend too much on personalities. it's true that he might have simply said that he hated working with me, and that's true.

My main question is; Is there some clever way for me to find out what happened, and find out whether he lied about me? I can't exactly talk with the people who suddenly have no interest in me and "wear a wire" or something like that.

What's the best way for me to find out what happened, and find out whether there's evidence to support a claim against this man?

Thanks very much.

3 answers  |  asked Sep 8, 2010 11:42 AM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (3)

Janet M. Koehn
there are two services out there, like the one arkady suggests. the one named "documented reference check" is at the website www.badreferences.com. the other is a company named allison taylor, www.allisontaylor. com. each provides similar services and will provide a written report.

however, i suggest you contact an attorney to see what can be done with the information you receive. there are other ways to obtain info about what is being said about you. if you can prove that a managing agent of your current employer has by false statements attempted to prevent you from obtaining a new job, you're entitled to treble damages pursuant to the labor code. you're also entitled to other damages, possibly punitive damages.

either of the above attorneys can do a great job of representing you. or if you want to find another, go the the cal employment lawyers assn's website, www.cela.org. you can search by city or county, and you should look for any who list "defamation" as a specialty.
good luck!

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Sep 8, 2010 5:08 PM [EST]
Elisa Ungerman
I was gong to suggest the very same thing. I had a client who did this and was very pleased with the results. He was able to locate the "bad apple". And the price was very reasonable.

posted by Elisa Ungerman  |  Sep 8, 2010 3:06 PM [EST]
Arkady Itkin

There is a clever way for you to find out what happened or at least to make sure that you are not defamed in the future. There is a service called "reference check" - Just google. For a very small price they will call the previous employer and do a reference check as if they were your potential employer, and then they will give you the report of what you employer said about you. This might be useful in your situation.


Arkady Itkin
San Francisco & Sacramento Employment Lawyer

posted by Arkady Itkin  |  Sep 8, 2010 12:17 PM [EST]

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