Defamation is an intentional false statement that harms another person. It can take two forms – libel, or written defamation; and slander, or oral defamation. It is considered a form of personal injury and is therefore compensable under the law. A lawsuit could recover damages for financial loss, emotional distress, and even punitive damages paid by the person who committed the defamation. However, a successful outcome to a defamation lawsuit is dependent on being able to prove defamation. Because the laws regarding this issue differ from state to state, it is important to consult a New Jersey employment lawyer with experience handling defamation cases.
Defamation claims often arise when an employee moves on to another job and needs a reference from a former employer. Any false statement from the former employer as to why the employee left or was fired or about their job performance could be potentially damaging to that employee’s reputation. The chances of getting another job are greatly reduced.
Five Steps to Proving Defamation
Bringing a defamation claim will require careful documentation of all available evidence. Anything in writing is helpful to supporting a suit, including the former employer’s reference policy, an offer letter for the new position, and any actual statements made. While every state has different rules on proving defamation, the following five points generally must be satisfied to win a defamation lawsuit.
- The employer must make a false statement of fact about the employee.
- Then the employer must make the false statement to someone else, also known as “publication.”
- It must be shown that the employer knew the statement was false.
- The employee must have suffered harm from the false statement.
- Finally, the statement cannot have been made under privilege. Often statements given in the context of employment reference are considered privileged and protected from liability.
A true statement, even one that is decidedly negative and/or hurtful does not qualify as defamation. A defamation claim will also not be supported by a negative review given as a statement of personal opinion. In some states, the requirement of publication can be met if the employee himself must repeat the false statement, or so-called self-publication. For instance, if asked in a job interview why he was fired from a previous position, the employee will be forced to give the false statement made by his former employer.
There are some statements that do not need to be proven harmful in many states because they are considered harmful in and of themselves. Examples of these include stating that someone does not have the skill set required for their profession or that they committed a crime. Privilege can be expected in many states unless it can be proven that the speaker acted out of malice.
Marlton Employment Lawyers at McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. Fight for Victims of Defamation in Employment
When seeking to protect your reputation and future employment possibilities, you need the best possible Marlton employment lawyer. At McOmber McOmber & Luber, P.C. our highly skilled Marlton employment lawyers can provide you with exceptional and personalized representation to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. An initial consultation is free so call our Marlton office at 856-985-9800 or our Red Bank office at 732-842-6500 to schedule an appointment. You can also complete our online contact form. We proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey including Cherry Hill and Marlton, as well as those in Red Bank and Middletown.