As a teacher, can an email stating derogatory remarks to my employer by a third party employer be considered libel?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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As a teacher, can an email stating derogatory remarks to my employer by a third party employer be considered libel?

I am a college professor that teaches dual credit classes at a high school. An email was sent by the high school administration sent an email regarding negative classroom attitude with students has led to declining enrollment, and even possible class cancelation. The comments are derogatory and serve as a personal attack and are consistent with an agenda remove me as a teacher from the high school and are not supported by either student review or peer review. The comments aim to hurt or damage my personal integrity and character with my employer.

Asked on February 23, 2017 under Personal Injury, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The remarks *may* be considered defamation if:
1) They are a factual assertion, not an opinon--opinions are never defamtion (libel or slander) and everyone is legally entitled to have and express opinions. So an email saying that you have a "negative attitude" is not defamation, since a "negative attitude" is not a provable (or disprovable) thing--i.e. it is not a fact. Rather, as something purely subjective, it is an opinion.
2) The factual statement must be false, since the truth is a defense to a claim of defamation. So if the email claimed that you made certain specific remarks to students (a factual assertion), but you did in fact make those remarks (so it is true), that is not defamation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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