Libel and Slander Lawyers
What are Libel and Slander?
Libel and slander are forms of defamation, a civil complaint defined as publicly making false statements about another person.
- Libel is a false and malicious statement about someone else, expressed in print. This statement can be made through writing, pictures, signs or other printed material. Some courts distinguish between a libel that appears defamatory at the first glance (“libel per se”) and libel that simply implies something defamatory (“libel per quod”).
- Slander is a false and malicious spoken statement about someone else. Slander is also subdivided into categories. For example, if a spoken defamatory statement is made about another’s profession or business, such statement is a “slander per se.”
Proving Defamation through Libel or Slander
To prove defamation through libel or slander, the statement must fulfill all three requirements:
- Communicated intentionally or negligently to someone else.
- Harmful to the reputation of the person the statement refers to. In another words, the communicated statement has to be “defamatory.”
- The statement must point in some way to the person defamed. Such reference may be implied.
However, depending on the status of the person being defamed or the subject matter of communication, malice or/and actual injury must be shown. For example, because of the Constitutional free speech protections, a libel or slander that references a public figure or official requires a showing of malice, Similarly, when libel or slander reference a private person but with respect to public concern subject matter, it is necessary to show the presence of malice or negligence resulting in actual injury.
Common Employment Situations Where Defamation Claims Arise
- Termination of Employment: Whether an employee resigns or is fired, the employer should avoid criticizing the former employee or discussing the decision to terminate an employee in the presence of other people.
- Job References: While employers can speak candidly about their former employees, an employer cannot be untruthful. The employer should not exaggerate the facts.
- Business Communications: An employer can be held responsible for an employee who unintentionally makes a false statement about another person or business. It is very important that business communications be factually accurate.
What Can an Employer Do to Prevent a Libel or Slander Lawsuit?
As an employer, it is best to have established policies and procedures regarding termination, providing references and the scope of an employee's communications regarding the business in order to avoid defamation lawsuits. An employer should also study, review, and evaluate possible defenses to defamation.
Do I Need an Experienced Libel and Slander Attorney?
An attorney will help you with the often timely and difficult procedures involved in filing a libel or slander lawsuit. A lawyer will also help if your employer has treated you unfairly because you filed defamation charges against them. If you are an employer being sued by a former employee for libel or slander, you should speak to a lawyer immediately.
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Last Modified: 07-31-2013 11:07 AM PDT
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