I hired a reference check company and my ex-employer told them that I had no people skills, had taken files and not returned them, hadn't returned their keys and didnt give leave passwords for the computers. All statements are false, the keys were returned, I didnt have ANY files to return and a board member asked me for passwords a month before my resignation. Where do I stand?

1 answer  |  asked Jul 24, 2003 10:20 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

David M. Lira
Is it enough?

Defamation is really a difficult thing to prove in the U.S., in large part because of the First Amendment's guarantee of freedom of speech. (How the First Amendment fits into this is really a complicated issue in and of itself.) So, in the U.S., the law of defamation has evolved in such a way that not all statements, even false statements are defamation.

First, opinions are not defamation. The statement that you have no people skills seems to be a statement of opinion to me, though others might disagree.

The other statements seem to be statements of fact, which can be defamation, and they seem to imply that you are a thief, a serious accusation. So, it seems you might have a defamation claim.

Whether you should bring a defamation lawsuit is another matter. The answer to that question is largely an economic question. That is, would it be worth your while? Take note that an attorney is not very likely to take a defamation case on a straight contingent basis.

posted by David M. Lira  |  Jul 25, 2003 10:03 AM [EST]

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