Disparaging statements made about an employee in board discussions have been held not to breach the duty of trust and confidence owed to the employee, as there was reasonable cause for making them and they were not sufficiently serious. Comments made about an employee between directors (or between HR and managers) are equivalent to the company thinking aloud, and an employer is not prohibited from thinking "even negative and unworthy thoughts" about an employee. Insulting remarks made by a junior employee to one of the employer's external advisors also did not breach the duty, as they were insufficiently serious and were not made as the individual's employer.
There is less likely to be reasonable cause for making comments about an employee to the press and therefore there may be a breach of the duty even if the comments are true. In this case there was reasonable cause to make factual statements about the restrictive covenants binding a departing employee (even though this breached a confidentiality obligation), given the employee's high profile and the need to correct a material misrepresentation already published in the press, but not to make disparaging comments about the employee's character, which therefore amounted to a repudiatory breach. However, the employee could not claim constructive dismissal as he had committed a prior repudiatory breach of contract himself (we understand that permission to appeal this point has been granted). (RDF Media Group v Clements, High Court)