Would a family member have a case if they brought a lawsuit against their local news station if it caused them to lose their job?

It’s not a false story, but very slanderous and is causing emotional distress and harmful with finding employment. The family member works a government job and was pending a final decision on whether they would be suspended or fired. They were leaning towards suspension but when the news aired this story the department gave the family member the option to resign or be fired. They resigned to avoid it being on their record, but the local media was more damaging to the decision and family member in efforts to look for work. The story was sensationalized to make this person look horrible. Misdemeanor charge that will either be retired and expunged.

Asked on July 18, 2015 under Personal Injury, Tennessee


Gregory Abbott / Consumer Law Northwest

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If the story was not untrue then by definition it was not defamatory and the fact that a perpetrator of a crime does not like the spin or perspective put on it by someone else, including the media, is not normally actionable.  The person needs to realize that it was his act of committing the crime that caused the follow-up results, not the spreading of the information.  He needs to learn from the experience if he does not want to repeat it and one of the most important lessons is he needs to take responsibility for his actions instead of trying to blame others.  That all said, the media always sensationalizes all its news stories - its good for their ratings.  Doesn't make it right but that is the reality and is generally legal.  Good luck.

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