Defamation

I was forced to quit a 22 year career position last year in October. I can go into those details if necessary. I was also attending school full time. I have now graduated and want to secure full time employment again, and have now found my last manager (last 2years of 22) is making disparaging remarks against me when called for a reference check (keep in mind I don't put her down as a reference, but they could find out who my last manager was). I am finding it quite difficult to find job. What legal recourse do I have? I have hired an agency to obtain remarks from her and I now have it documented. I have all other past situations (while an employee) also documented quite well. I can be reached at 623-465-0708.

1 answer  |  asked Jul 16, 2001 3:07 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (1)

Francis Fanning
Defamation

Arizona has a "privilege" statute that protects employers who give reference information in good faith to prospective employers. Because of the statute, you will not only have to prove that the remarks made were false and defamatory, but you will have to prove "malice." This does not mean hatred or an intent to harm you, but it is more than mere carelessness in the publication of the defamatory remarks. If anything was conveyed in writing to a prospective employer, your former employer will have to provide you with a copy of the reference or the privilege statute does not apply.
In order to determine whether the remarks made were defamatory, an attorney would have to examine them to see if anything factually false was said, or anything that would suggest false facts by innuendo. Mere opinions are not enough to make a case of defamation. On the other hand, true information of a personal nature that does not fall within the scope of employment reference information (such as medical information) might form the basis of a claim of invasion of privacy. There are several forms of invasion of privacy, but the two forms that an employer is most likely to commit are the public disclosure of private facts and "false light" invasion of privacy, or revealing true information that places you in a false light in the eyes of others.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jul 18, 2001 1:09 PM [EST]

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