Defamation of character is the legal term for harming someone's reputation by making false statements. To prove defamation, a plaintiff must show:
Defamation is often divided into slander and libel:
Employment related defamation of character occurs when an employer makes false statements about an employee to a third party, such as a background check agency or a prospective employer. Defamation issues can also arise in the workplace if an employer defames an employee to create an excuse to fire him or her. This can also give rise to a wrongful termination claim.
To qualify as defamation a statement must be factual, not an opinion.
However, a statement of opinion may be defamatory if it appears to be based on specific facts that would be defamatory if shared.
An employer saying you shouldn’t be trusted to handle cash implies personal knowledge of specific misconduct, and could be considered defamation.
Many states protect statements made as part of an employment reference as privileged. Unless the plaintiff can prove that their former employer knew the statement was false, or that the statement exceeded the scope of what should be included in an employment reference, recovery for a bad reference is unlikely.
In most states, you can bring a defamation lawsuit against your employer. If you have been the victim of employment related defamation of character, you should contact an employment attorney. Defamation can be difficult to prove if it was made behind closed doors, but an experienced employment attorney can examine the facts and determine whether you have a case and are entitled to compensation.
Last Modified: 09-25-2017 02:55 AM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.