A federal employee has accused our office (contractors) as being racist (half our staff is minority) and sent a mass email to other offices claiming as such. Now the division director is threatening termination based on her claims. Being that she is slandering our names is there any legal recourse to defend ourselves or are we at the mercy one persons ill will?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Re: Racism Accusation
First you indicate that you are in Virginia, but this relates to DC law. I can only advise you as to Virginia law.
If any of the defamation went outside of DC into Virginia, you can certainly sue in Virginia for that defamation.
I would imagine the same would be true for DC, although I think DC courts are probably slower than Va. Courts (which are slow enough already).
Obviously, however, you have concerns about how this affects your contract. It might not be wise, from a practical perspective, to antagonize them.
But I strongly suspect that the contract would not permit termination for such reasons.
Speaking not as a lawyer, but only as a former government employee familiar with government contracting procedures, you should talk to the grants & contracts service or similar contracting specialists. Typically (if not always) there is a specialty shop that processes all of the contracts on behalf of the program / subject matter office.
The Contracting Officer is the formal authority for contracts, NOT the program office or Contracting Officer's Technical Representative (COTR).
The grants and contracts speciality shop would have the control over what actually happens with your contract. The subject matter (program) office can only RECOMMEND to the Contracting Officer what they want done with the contract.
Only the official Contracting Officer can actually take any action on your contract.
Obviously I would not condone any racism, but neither do I support false charges against anyone.