TAS Defamation Concerns with Snapchat

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Dean emery

16 June 2014
I have a concern that my character has been brought into question by a non informed party.
Recently I took a Snapchat photo of a consenting party and sent the photo only to that individual who was in the photo during work hours.
Whilst the company policy does not prohibit this action a third party has reported this as sexual harassment.
The photo was in no way sexual or demeaning nor offensive to either myself, the person the photo was taken of, nor suggested any connotation of sexual activity whatsoever.
The individual in the photo and I have a relationship in which this type of banter is both expected and common place.
For reference it was a side on shot fully clothed of a person whilst at work with the caption " hard at work" whilst serving a customer, the photo was taken without the person in the photo knowing but with prior consent considering the foundation of the relationship already established.
The third party has reported to the senior management in the business and the allegations from this report has been, inappropriate and demeaning behaviour to the party involved.
This has subsequently resulted in a formal discussion with myself and senior management regarding the situation .
Upon further investigation and conversation with senior management there has been found no grounding in which the allegations by the third party have been warranted.
In consultation with the person in the actual photo, a personal friend,has any uncomfortable, inappropriate or unwanted attention been displayed.
My concern is that considering both the person in the photo nor myself found the act inappropriate and the fact that the third party has inflamed the situation beyond reality in their description, are there ground for a retaliatory comment or action in defence of an innocent and humorous action.
The action by the third party could be considered an action with intent to tar my reputation as she is married to the area manager which is three stations above her current position in an attempt to manipulate events considering she has been known to utilise this relationship to her advantage in the past.
I have not had any previous interaction with this person on this level.
I am concerned know that her comments or actions have persuaded others opinions from the actual truth of the matter which can be confirmed by both myself and the person in the photo as untrue and defaming of my character.
Do I have any grounds on which to attest the allegations or should I let the dust settle and move on with no further action.
Side note.
Even the senior managers involved the investigation as such would like to utilise this issue as an example to the third party and their husband of the in appropriate use of their relationship to influence the outcome of this occasion.
Bringing the matter before our internal HR department as an example of the inappropriate action and communication between a low level team member(wife) and senior leader(husband) and area manager in escalating a minor, non policy "infraction" to the point of possible termination for myself.
Consider the facts as I have told you, I am more than content to relay the entire story at a later stage.
I thank you for any advice you may be able to give me thus far.

John R

Well-Known Member
14 April 2014
Interesting question Dean!
  1. How did the third party (I assume the senior leader's wife) become aware of the Snapchat - I assume that she physically saw you take the photo given the disposable nature of photos taken with the Snapchat app?
  2. Have you discussed the matter with your Manager and/or HR Manager? If yes, when are you likely to know of any penalty for your conduct?
LawStuff has an easy to understand overview of defamation law in Australia. That said, in practice, defamation proceedings generally involve, among other things, significant legal expense and your work colleagues to provide evidence to support any claim that the third party defamed you.

From a practical perspective, you may want to think about your "end game". That is, what are you looking to achieve by any action?
If you want to sue the wife of a senior leader of your employer, your employment is likely to become untenable very quickly.
In contrast, if you are able to explain your position to HR Manager and raise your concerns in relation to the defamatory comments that you allege are being made about you, perhaps this may be a better option to start?

Sidenote - Remember to take detailed notes of all meetings, etc. related to this matter. These notes may be useful to support any future claim for unfair dismissal (or similar) in the event that your employment is terminated.

Hope this helps.