The owner of a luxury car upholstery business has been ordered to pay over £47,000 after a former employee sued him for defamation over a scathing Facebook post.
David Barcos, the owner of Melbourne-based car upholstery business BNB Products, has been told to pay a former employee, Michael Iskander, over £47,000 in damages for defaming him on Facebook to his company’s 20,000 followers.
Iskander had worked for BNB Products before starting his own competitor company Luxe Automotive Interiors.
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The defamation post, which was titled 'This is an official Scam Alert From BNB Products PTY LTD', falsely accused Iskander of scamming a customer out of their deposit and claimed he was lying about having worked full-time at BNB Products.
Iskander claims that the post, which also showed a screenshot of a bank transfer as ‘proof’ of the claimed scam, was fraudulent as the payee’s name on the image was ‘M Isklander’ and not the legitimate ‘M Iskander’.
The post reportedly received 93 reactions, 53 comments and had been shared 64 times in the days after it had been posted.
Iskander claims that because of the post's circulation, his business suffered as it relies on a positive online presence for sales.
Barcos failed to show up to the court hearing or file a defence, meaning the judge automatically ruled in favour of the defamation claim and Iskander, ordering Barcos to pay $90,000 (£46,978) in damages and $30,000 (£15,659) in legal costs.
Defamation in the workplace
Defamation arising between an employer or manager and employee often arises if there is already bad blood in the relationship. It’s more likely to occur when a disgruntled employee or manager feels the need to air their grievance online. With the rising use of social media, especially LinkedIn, these platforms can be used to taint the image of a former or current colleague, which can be extremely detrimental to a brand or a professional’s career.
It’s up to HR to spot the early signs of a toxic workplace relationship, to try and negate a defamation case and the potential damage it could cause.
On the Hiscox website, they describe the difference between defamation, libel and slander, which they say is vital for business owners to know. Their site reads: “The term ‘defamation’ describes a statement that causes harm to the character of the person or organisation it concerns. Importantly, such statements can cause a business or individual to start legal proceedings.
“Libel specifically describes a defamatory statement that has been written down or recorded. This could be in a letter, email, social media post or text message, for