What action do I take for a former employee calling/texting clients and slandering/making libel statements about staff?

An employee was terminated from my preschool staff for improper use of personal cell phone during business hours. Clients are coming to the office showing text messages from former employee that are accusatory and false. What action may we take? Perhaps cease and desist letter?

Asked on February 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You could send a cease and desist letter if you believe the texts are in fact defamatory (see below), threatening legal action if necessary; or  you could simply institute legal action (i.e. sue the person for defamation).

Defamation is the public making (to any third parties; so texts to clients would qualify) of untrue factual statements which damage a person's or business's reputation. Opinions are not defamamtion, even if very negative (e.g. it's not defamation to say, "it was a horrible place to work and I wouldn't trust them with my children"), and true facts are not defamation, not matter how harmful; however, if the texts contain  false factual assertions, that may be defamation, and you may have a cause of action.


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