Can I bring a lawsuit against an individual board member at my former place of employment for defamation?

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Can I bring a lawsuit against an individual board member at my former place of employment for defamation?

I was released from my position as CEO after a “closed session” of my executive committee. No reason was given. 15 months later I learned that one of the members, an individual with whom I had a conflict in the months prior, had called the meeting and swayed a number of newly appointed board members to vote in the affirmative for my dismissal. The individual reporting to me stated that there were misleading and erroneous statements made about my job performance. I believe the assertions were defamatory and damaged my proffessional reputation.

Asked on February 3, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Defamation is the public--which includes to any third parties; so potentially to board members--making of untrue statements of fact which damage a person's reputation and/or make others not want to work with or do business with that person.

If, as you write, the individual made factually erroneous statements about you which damaged your reputation and caused your loss of employment, you may have a defamation case; you should consult with either a personal injury or employment law attorney about the matter.

Note that opinions, no matter how harmful, are not defamation; only false factual statements could be defamation.


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