Defamation as to Employment
Labor & Employment Law
Defamation in Employment
False statements can ruin your reputation and make finding employment or advancing your career difficult, if not impossible. In the employment context, defamation often occurs when a past employer provides an undeserved negative reference to your prospective employer, but proving that can be difficult. To succeed on a claim of defamation, you must first show that an individual representing your former employer made a false statement of fact to a third party, and that false statement caused you injury—such as the rescinding of a job offer or refusing to hire you. Statements of opinion are not defamation. Also, in many instances, statements made internally by an employer to co-workers may not qualify as defamation. For example, statements—however untrue—made to persons in the zone of “need to know,” such as the proper chain of command, may not be legally considered defamatory. Such a determination, however, is fact intensive. With regard to references and defamation, Section 768.095, Florida Statutes, provides that your former employer has a “qualified privilege” to discuss your performance with a prospective employer. In other words, your former employer has a protection to speak freely unless you can prove that their statements are made with malice or are knowingly false. You have two years from the date a defamatory statement is made to bring a claim in court.
If you believe you have been defamed, please schedule a consultation with an experienced employee rights attorney to further assess your claims and discuss your legal options.