Defamation lawsuits: FAQs

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in Employment Law,Human Resources

Employers must be careful of not only what they say, but what they do, so as not to trigger employee defamation lawsuits. Issues surrounding defamation claims include offering negative references, definitions of qualified and conditional privilege, and steps that can lower defamation culpability.

1. Can an employer give a negative reference without crossing the defamation line?

An employer can give a negative reference without crossing the defamation line. However, if the reference has any of the following characteristics, it may be called on the legal carpet:

  • False information is knowingly communicated.
  • There is reckless disregard for the truth.
  • The communicator acts out of malice.
  • The information is communicated to those without a need-to-know.
  • Harm to the employee resulted from the communication.
  • The receivers of the message understood the defamatory meaning of the message.

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