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Attorneys At Law, Representing Employees in Civil Rights and Employment Litigation

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Justice For Employees Is Our Business, Our Only Business

Greenberg & Weinmann has successfully represented California employees for over 25 years. In the process, we have provided guidance thoughtfully and obtained justice with steely resolve.

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Greenberg & Weinmann has aggressively pursued and obtained justice and dignity on behalf of employees since our first trial victory on behalf of a mistreated employee in Los Angeles Superior Court over 25 years ago.

We have achieved numerous six- and seven-figure results on behalf of our clients.

We pledge our loyalty and undivided attention to our clients.

If you are uncertain whether you have a case, please read our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). If you'd like to consult with us, please call us at 310-319-6188 or fill out our "Ready to Talk?" form.

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Defamation Liability Related to Workplace Investigations

Malice sufficient to defeat the conditional privilege has been found where there has been a failure to investigate the statement(s) or conduct at issue thoroughly and verify the facts stated.  Rollenhagen v. City of Orange (1981) 116 Cal.App.3d 414, 423; Widener v. PG&E (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 415, 434-35. It has also been found where there has been purposeful avoidance of the truth or deliberate decision not to investigate facts.  Antonovich v. Sup.Ct. (Schwellenbach) (1991) 234 Cal.App.3d 1041, 1048.  Where the substance of the defamatory statements pose a substantial danger to the defamed party’s reputation, there is an even greater obligation to investigate the facts thoroughly and fairly.  Failure to do so constitutes reckless disregard for the truth.  Widener, supra, at 434.  This includes the failure to interview obvious witnesses who could have confirmed or disproved the allegations.  Khawar v. Globe Intern., Inc. (1998) 19 Cal.4th 254, 276.

 “Although failure to investigate will not alone support a finding of actual malice, the purposeful avoidance of the truth is in a different category . . . Inaction, i.e., failure to investigate, which was a product of a deliberate decision not to acquire knowledge of facts that might confirm the probable falsity of [the subject] charges will support a finding of actual malice.”  Antonovich v. Superior Court, 234 Cal.App.3d 1041, 1048 (1991) (internal citations omitted).  

While there is no set way to conduct an appropriate investigation, a proper investigation should meet the EEOC’s guidelines in conducting investigations.  The EEOC’s enforcement guidance is available on their website and can be viewed here:  http://www.eeoc.gov/policy/docs/harassment.html  In addition, the Association of Workplace Investigators (“AWI”) publication, Guiding Principles for Investigators Conducting Impartial Workplace Investigations, lays out eleven principles that reflect best practices for workplace investigations: http://www.aowi.org/assets/documents/guiding%20principles.pdf

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The information contained above is intended for purely informational purposes.
It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. 
Use of such material does not, in any way, constitute an attorney-client relationship; only an express signed agreement can create such a relationship.

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