What constitutes defamation of character against a former employer?

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What constitutes defamation of character against a former employer?

I recently left a job for another. A person I currently work with interviewed for a job with my old company with my former territory director. During the  interview, she told him that I quit my job, was supposed to move but didn’t and then contacted her to beg for my job back. He then said she laughed hysterically. She continued to tell him that the old manager was let go for having improper relations with a staff member. I feel that this will hurt me in my field; it’s a very small industry. Do I have any grounds for defamation of character?

Asked on August 9, 2011 New Mexico

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Defamation is the public making (even to one other person or third party) of an untrue statement  of fact which damages a person's reputation and/or makes others not want to work with him or her. The critical part is the statement must be an untrue statement  of fact. Therefore, for example, true statements, no matter how embarrasing or hurtful, are never defamation; if you did the things which the director claimed you did, there is no defamation. Also, opinions are not defamation, so a claim that "John/Jane Doe is the worst employee I ever had and only an idiot would work with him/her" is not defamation.

If you feel that you may have been defamed, you should consult with a personal injury (usually handles defamation) or employment (handles workplace issues) attorney. Good luck.


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