Do I have a libel case?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Do I have a libel case?

I was fired by my employer, who gave written examples in my file that were false.
The examples claim that I did not complete certain tasks in my job. I have
documentation in writing that shows the tasks were completed successfully. I am
a 59 year old woman with many years of experience in the industry. The two
‘managers’ in this area are in their 30’s and 40’s. I believe they just didn’t
want an older person around, and tried to find faults. However, the examples
given were false and damaging, which caused me to lose my job. They will not
remove them from my file. What action can I take?

Asked on February 16, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

You have no defamation case (libel is written defamation; slander is spoken or oral) owing to comments placed in your personnel file. Defamation is the *public* making of untrue factual assertions about you which damage your reputation, but your personnel file is not public document or forum. Since it is not public, comments in it are not defamation.
On the other hand, if you believe that you were terminated because of your age and not for some legitimate reason, you may have a viable age-discrimination claim, since you are much older than the supervisors and are well past the protected age (40). You may wish to contact the federal EEOC or state's equal/civil rights agency to explore bringing such a claim.

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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