California state employment law protects employees from unlawful defamation at work. If you believe you are or have been subject to unlawful defamation you may be entitled to compensation including emotional distress damages, lost wages, and punitive damages. Learn more about what constitutes unlawful defamation in the workplace:

What constitutes unlawful defamation?

Negative and false statements made about someone can be hurtful and damaging, but not all false statements are legally considered to be defamatory. According to California state law, defamation is a false statement of fact that causes damage to one’s reputation.

Defamation encompasses both libel (written defamation) and slander (spoken defamation). California Civil Code defines each term as follows:


“False and unprivileged publication by writing, printing, picture, effigy, or other fixed representation to the eye, which exposes any person to hatred, contempt, ridicule, or obloquy, or which causes him to be shunned or avoided, or which has a tendency to injure him in his occupation.”


“False and Unprivileged publication, orally uttered, and also communications by radio or any mechanical or other means, which:

  1. Charges any person with a crime, or with having been indicted, convicted or punished for a crime;
  2. Imputes in him the present existence of an infectious, contagious, or loathsome disease;
  3. Tends directly to injure him in respect to his office, profession, trade or business…
  4. Imputes to him impotence or want of chastity; or;
  5. Which, by natural consequence, causes actual damage.”

Proving Defamation at a California Workplace

Regardless of whether the defamation is written or oral, it must be objectively false and cause reputational damage. In order to legally prove defamation, you also must be able to demonstrate that the false statement was made with malicious intent and was made to a party who had an interest in the communication.

Your employer may be legally responsible for defamatory comments made by other employees or supervisors as long as the comments occur at work or relate to your employment. Your employer is not legally responsible if a coworker is making false and negative statements about you outside of work that do not relate to or impact your experience in the workplace.

Defamation at work can have many negative consequences, including causing damage to your reputation, negatively impacting your career trajectory, or leading to termination. If you believe you may have experienced unlawful defamation at work, you may be entitled to compensation including emotional distress damages, lost wages, and punitive damages. In order to support your case, be sure to record all relevant events or interactions in writing and save related emails, notes, and documents.

Hiring an Employment Attorney

Reach out to an employment attorney. Avloni Law is a law firm dedicated to fighting for your right to a workplace free of unlawful defamation. Navruz Avloni is an experienced employment attorney and has successfully represented numerous clients. Schedule a free consultation with Navruz Avloni.