buisness owner fires an employee. Says they were stealing, files suit aginst them

a buisness owner fires an employee. Says they were stealing, files suit aginst them then calls all business in the area and informs them that the employee was fired for stealing. What can be done the suit has not even gone to court yet.

Asked on May 22, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The employee needs to have a good lawyer on his side.  One place to find qualified attorneys is our website, http://attorneypages.com

Slander is a civil cause of action, for making false statements about a person that cause that person to be held in disregard or ridicule.  Sometimes, whether a statement causes that result is something to be decided, but calling someone a thief is always slander -- if it's false.  However, there are some situations in which a false statement can be made that would be slander, but a legal privilege protects the statement.

And the exact wording of what is said makes a difference.  Saying, "I fired John Jones because I thought he was stealing from us" is very different, sometimes, from saying, "John Jones was stealing from us."  The second statement might be proved to be false, but the first one is almost impossible to prove false.  Many courts also hold that a "mere opinion" cannot be slander.  The employee might try to counterclaim against the employer for slander, here, but I suspect it would be a long shot at best -- and impossible, if the theft statement is true.


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