Emails Sent to Ex-employer - Can I be Sued for Defamation?

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t1dr34

Member
31 January 2021
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I was let go from a company a few months ago. While working there I experience ongoing bullying, harassment and discrimination which spiralled me into severe depression. I was hesitant about speaking up for the fear of losing my job which inevitably happened anyway due to the ongoing bullying which affecting my work performance.
During this period, death threats made against me and another employee by the manager with witnesses present, along with a separate incident in relation to homophobic comments made by another employee. A few days ago, I sent a mass email addressed to the owner of the company, including my manager, and a few ex-colleagues detailing my concerns and described the incidents that happened. I identified the manager responsible for the threats and the employee that said the homophobic comment. I explain my intentions of pursuing criminal charges for the threats made by my manager and a lawsuit against the company for bullying, harassment and discrimination. I will also add that the manager has a long history of such behaviour and is widely known throughout the company.
Now that I had time to reflect, I regret sending the email I realise the legal cost and time needed to pursue such outcomes is not possible considering I am a student with no money and I just potentially opened myself up for a defamation lawsuit. However, the incidents I described in the email is 100% true but will require the witness testimonies of my ex colleagues which I am not confident will back me up and it's more of a case of proving the homophobic comments were said in the first place. For these reasons, I would rather not pursue any legal action, yet I am concern that I will be sue for defamation if I don't take any legal action now. My question is:

1. Does my manager and the employee that I identify in the email have legal grounds to sue for defamation?
2. Do I have a legal case if I am sued for defamation? All incidents in the emails are true and documented as well including witnesses.
3. Could I send an apology or retract the statement made now and hope this matter does not escalate further or should I wait for the statement of concern letter before taking any action?
4. Do I need to speak to a lawyer now and seek advice?
6. Can they skip the letter of concern and go straight to trial?
7. Is there anything I could do now to prevent a possible defamation lawsuit?
8. Should I go to the police about the death threats?
9. Should I contact Fair Work Australia in regards to the bullying and harassment even though I have only been working there for less than 6 months?
10. Will reporting these incidents help my defence if this matter does go to trial?
 

Rod

Lawyer
LawTap Verified
27 May 2014
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1. Need to read the email, though not appropriate in a forum like this. Truth is a defence, though you may need to prove the material is true.
2. Yes - if you can prove your material is true.
3. Can't say, but an apology if not correctly worded may be seen as an admission of guilt.
4. Unlikely
6. Likely yes, but do not know what State you live in.
7. Hard to say, you'd need legal advice for this question.
8. Yes.
9. Fair Work Ombudsman in the first instance.
10. Possibly.