An employer is sued for defamation

your late gary tremolada time management trainer

An employer clearly upset at the amount of absenteeism taken by their team sent …a very direct email to his team.

The employer was complaining over a 1 month period there was a reported;

a. 24 sick days

b. 21 non compliance start times or lates and

c. 26 days of annual leave.

This works out at least 3 people not being at work for the entire month. Doesn’t sound like a lot?

Well, lets assume each employee was getting $500pw in wages that $1500 for the week. Over a month that’s a whopping $6000 in hard cost. What you then is add the loss of productivity which in some cases is 4 times that amount close to $24,000 in lost productivity.

For a small business they are nails in the proverbial coffin. As you’ll see it was very poor timing.

The Story

The employer sent a group email to its employees. It stated and highlighted the people that were taking leave etc. One of the workers  sued the employer for defamation its seemed unbeknownst to the employer was suffering from breast cancer at the time. She presented her case arguing the following;

1.   Was a malingerer;

2.   Unjustifiably took time off work by falsely pretending she was sick,

3.   Didn’t act fairly to the employer,

4.   Didn’t act fairly to other staff by unjustifiably taking time off work, and

5.   Hurts management in the running of projects by unjustifiably absenting herself from work. She also alleged that her feelings were hurt as a result. Judge Gibson agreed that points 3, 4 and 5 were in fact defamatory. Judge Gibson found the employer and the director were entitled to send the email under s30 (“defence of qualified privilege for provision of certain information”) of the Defamation Act, and rejected the worker’s damages claim.

She also found the worker didn’t suffer “harm” to her reputation, nor hurt to feelings under s33 (“defence of triviality”).  Judge Gibson said if she had found in the worker’s favour, she would have awarded her $10,000 in damages for all of the imputations (the term imputed is used to describe an action, fact, or quality, the knowledge of which is charged to an individual based upon the actions of another for whom the individual is responsible rather than on the individual’s own acts or omissions.) , or $5000 for the imputations found to be defamatory.

Your late

Enders v Erbas & Associates Pty Ltd (No. 2) [2013] NSWDC 44 (19 April 2013)

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