Although many people leave jobs on good terms, it is not always possible to ensure this as an employer. If an employee is disgruntled when they leave their job, they may make various complaints about the company, regardless of whether they are true.
If you are an employer, it is a good idea to protect your business against negative comments by working with an Alpharetta non-disparagement agreements lawyer. At Sparks Law, our skilled attorneys can help you draft documents that protect your reputation and business interests against malicious gossip.
Disparaging a business essentially means broadcasting negative opinions, ideas, or perceived facts about a company’s management team, products, services, manner of conducting business, or other employees. If a former employee complains to a friend or spouse, their former employer will likely never find out. However, when a person uses social media to reach a wider audience, it could cause serious harm to the company. Employers should work with a local attorney who is experienced in drafting agreements to prevent disparagement on social media.
Disparagement and defamation are similar, as both involve negative statements and can harm businesses. However, they are not identical. Generally, a tort action for defamation requires proof that the defendant’s action harmed the plaintiff. Disparagement requires the plaintiff to show the defendant made a disparaging statement but does not require that any proof of harm.
Defamation can be written (libel) or spoken (slander). This involves communicating something so outrageous about someone that it harms that person’s reputation or business opportunities. Telling a friend that a former boss is a jerk is not enough to sustain a defamation action, but if a person spitefully tells an egregious lie, it is probably defamation. However, it is important to remember that the truth is a definitive defense to defamation.
The purpose of non-disparagement agreements is to stop disgruntled employees from communicating anything negative about the company, whether true or not. This could include but is not limited to the following examples:
Employers can even enforce a non-disparagement agreement if the employee calls them jerks, although they may decide it is not worth it. A non-disparagement contracts lawyer can help Alpharetta employers draft effective agreements and decide whether to pursue legal action for any breaches.
If a government agency calls on a former employee of a business under investigation, a non-disparagement agreement cannot stop them from cooperating. For example, say the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission calls an employee for information regarding a discrimination complaint. The employee could make negative statements without penalty under the non-disparagement agreement.
Non-disparagement agreements can be clauses in a larger employment agreement or standalone contracts. Either way, there are consequences if one party breaches them. For example, if an employee disparages the company a month after leaving and severance pay is conditional on a non-disparagement clause, the employee may have to pay back the company.
The court could also order an employee to pay damages if the employer can prove the disparagement harmed the business. The dedicated attorneys at Sparks Law could help draft a non-disparagement agreement with a liquidated damages clause that awards the employer a specific amount for each provable breach. Our legal team is also experienced in reviewing existing agreements and representing Alpharetta employers in any disputes that may arise.
Hopefully, employees will leave your company on a positive note. However, some former workers may want to lash out through no fault of your own. Their negative comments can have a serious impact on your business.
To prevent this, consult an Alpharetta non-disparagement lawyer at Sparks Law about what documents to have your employees sign. Our attorneys are happy to sit down with you and discuss an effective strategy to accomplish your business goals. Give us a call today.