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Tell the truth! It won’t lead to a defamation suit

by on
in Firing,Human Resources

So you’ve terminated an employee because she wasn’t doing a good job. Now you’ve got to deal with the aftermath—employees asking questions about the firing or wondering whether they will lose their jobs next.

To allay those fears, it’s OK to tell them that the former employee was fired because she wasn’t doing a good job—as long as that’s true. Such reassurance won’t turn into a defamation suit you’ll lose.

Recent case: Jean Forte sued her former employer for defamation, claiming a supervisor told her former co-workers she was fired because she “did not do her job.”

The court tossed out the case, concluding that statements such as this enjoy a qualified privilege. The employee would have to prove that the statement was false and made with malice. (Forte v. Lutheran Augustana, No. 09-CV-2358, ED NY, 2009)

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