Our company is being harassed by a customer, what are our options?

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Our company is being harassed by a customer, what are our options?

Our customer has a ‘business’ of his own that is in the same field as the
business at which I work. Unfortunately, this customer has a horrible reputation
and delivers poor service. He is a huge embarrassment to himself and to the
industry. The customer continuously attempts to associate himself and his
‘business’ with our company. He has tried to get on our board. He was denied,
but still attends board meetings and speaks out of turn. He brings his customers
to our business and promotes us as partners. He has purchased a membership to
our business hence why I refer to him as the customer, and uses this membership
to bring in his own paying customers for free.

Can we take legal action to get him to distance himself from us and our business?

Asked on February 7, 2017 under Business Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) If he lies about you in a way that you believe damages your reputation--such as by claiming to be associated with you when he is not--you could sue him for defamation, for either monetary compensation or for a court order that he cease doing this. Note: you can only sue for defamation for an untrue factual assertion which damages your reputation, not for a true fact, even if unfortunate, and not for mere opinions.
2) Don't sell him any new memberships or renew his membership: a business has the right to not service customers who are disruptive.
3) If he's not a board member, he has no right to attend your meetings (as long as you don't hold them in a public space where he'd have the right to be anyway--e.g. don't have them at Starbucks): next time he does, tell him he is trespassing (assuming he is--that is, that he is in space you control without permission) and that if he won't leave, you will call the police...then do so, if he doesn't go.
4) If he is violating any terms of service, etc. of his membership in what he is currently doing, revoke it.
5) Once he is no longer a member, if he enters you space without permission, he is a trespasser, and again, you can call the police.


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