employer defamation: negative coding system

RE: the following article; negative reference by employer HR coding system.

can we sue for defamation? we may have proof
My wife recently discovered that her former employer (the business manager) provided negative references about her to prospective employers which may have damaged her reputation and prevented her from getting hired from any employers in the industry. The business manager not only gave negative feedback, but she also entered a code on their computer system (viewable by other employers in the industry) which indicated my wife was not hirable and that she left the company without any notice.

2 answers  |  asked Oct 2, 2012 3:47 PM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (2)

Janet M. Koehn
If the information given is (1)false and (2)implicates a lack of competence in the person's trade, occupation or profession, it is defamatory per se. Damages directly resulting from the defamation need not be proved, or even pleaded, in order to prevail. They are presumed. Punitive damages may or may not also be available.

This is why you need, as Elisa has indicated, to consult with an attorney experienced in employment law, and particularly in the law of defamation. You can find one in your area by going to the website of California Employment Lawyers Association, www.cela.org. You can search by specialty, county or city.

posted by Janet M. Koehn  |  Oct 3, 2012 11:00 AM [EST]
Elisa Ungerman
You may have a claim, but there is not enough information provided to be sure; see a qualified attorney to ensure that no qualified privileges apply that may prevent you from pursuing your case and may subject you to litigation where your wife would end up owing the other side money! Further, what constitutes "defamation" involves "provable assertions of fact" impacting reputation as opposed to mere "opinion", a difference that may not be self evident to the unwary. Plus, you will need to be able to prove that more likely than not, your wife in fact lost jobs due to the negative information and not for other reasons.

posted by Elisa Ungerman  |  Oct 2, 2012 4:55 PM [EST]

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