Character defamation?

I have recently started a temporary work contract for a financial services company. On my official first day of employment, the HR manager called me in for a meeting and informed me that one of my previous employers had given me a bad reference (written), claiming that I was lazy. Despite this bad written reference, the company hired me because I had successfully completed unpaid work experience and they did not believe this reference and on the contrary found me to be a hard worker. However, the HR manager said that she would not have taken the chance with me had I not done work experience with them, therefore this bad reference potentially could cost me future employment. In the country where I reside now, this bad reference would be considered character defamation, but I would like to know what legal recourse, if any I have under New York State Law. At this former company, I worked hard and was on 100% commission and made both myself and the company quite a bit of money and can proove this with Tax returns etc. Do I have a good case to sue them or can I at least make sure they never provide a bad reference on me again???

1 answer  |  asked Nov 22, 2003 12:10 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Defamation is Hard to Prove

In New York State, defamation cases are a lot harder to prove than most people think. First, you need to know exactly what was said, to whom and when. Then, not everything that might be said about you that is negative is defamation. For example, being called lazy, even ina written reference, is probably not defamation because it is an opinion. You generally cannot sue someone based on that person's opinion.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Nov 24, 2003 08:55 AM [EST]

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