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Lying to the EEOC isn’t grounds for defamation suit

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Good news for employers faced with a former employee who tries to add defamation to his case based on alleged employer misrepresentation. What you say to an agency like the EEOC can’t be grounds for a separate defamation action.

Recent case: Tommie sued Wells Fargo, alleging that he was terminated because of his race. He also said the company defamed him when it told the EEOC (which was investigating the case) that Tommie had been fired for not meeting sales quotas.

But the court tossed out that claim. It noted that even if what Wells Fargo told the EEOC was false, it couldn’t be the basis for a defamation lawsuit. (Dawson v. Wells Fargo, No. 11-2456, DC MN, 2012)

Final note: Of course, lying under oath is still a criminal offense—perjury. It just isn’t grounds for a separate defamation lawsuit.

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