How Should I Handle Defamation From a Previous Employer?

How Should I Handle Defamation From a Previous Employer?

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How Should I Handle Defamation From a Previous Employer?

Defamation of character represents a general legal term for any type of statement that damages the reputation of another person. Slander is defamation in verbal form, while libel refers to a written type of defamation. Regardless of the type of defamation, laws at the state and federal levels make it illegal to destroy another person’s reputation. However, you have to remember that American citizens have the right to free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The line between First Amendment protections and defamation of character is sometimes blurred.

Defamation is hurtful, but it is especially damaging when a previous employer makes one or more defamatory statements against a current or former employee. Employers can make defamatory statements in several different settings, including during employee reviews and when giving references. Both types of defamation damage a worker’s career, which limits the amount of income earned and makes it difficult for the defamed to receive promotions.

If a previous employer has committed acts of defamation, you have the right to fight back against the false statements by filing a civil lawsuit. At Morgan & Morgan, our employment attorneys handle defamation cases that involve previous employers. During the first meeting with one of the employment lawyers at Morgan & Morgan, you present the evidence you have gathered that demonstrates a previous employer committed one or more acts of defamation.

Do not allow a previous employer to get away with defamation. Schedule a free case evaluation to determine how your employment lawyer will proceed with your case.

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

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  • What Is Defamation in the Workplace?

    Workplace defamation represents a legal issue concerning the false statement made against an employee that costs an employee the opportunity to find gainful employment. Defamation in the workplace applies to every employee, regardless of their employment status. Both current and former employees receive legal protections against defamation. Owners, managers, and supervisors typically are the guilty parties of defamation, although co-workers also can commit acts of defamation by spreading misinformation about a professional colleague.

    Defamation in the workplace can come in both verbal and written forms. Proving defamation is much easier if you have collected emails and/or handwritten messages that disparage your character. Verbal defamation is much more difficult to prove, as it boils down to the version of events explained by each party.

  • How Do I Prove My Previous Employer Is Guilty of Defamation?

    If you decide to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages for defamation, you have to prove five elements regarding the evidence associated with the case. Foremost, you must demonstrate your previous employer made one or more defamatory statements. Second, the employer made defamatory statement or statements while speaking or writing to at least one other person. Third, you have to show that your previous employer made false statements. Fourth, your previous employer should assume legal liability for making the false, defamatory statement or statements. Finally, the defamatory statements have damaged your professional reputation.

  • What Are the Most Common Types of Employment Defamation?

    Employers have several ways to disparage the character of a former or current employee. The underlying principle of workplace defamation involves an employer making false verbal and/or written statements that at least one other person hears and/or reads.

    Employee Review

    During an employee review, a manager discusses the positive contributions a worker has made over the previous year or six months. Another part of an employee review concerns how a worker can do better before the next review. The worker then addresses the employer’s concerns, as well as present goals for the upcoming year or six months. Although the employer can make defamatory statements during an employee review, defamation usually occurs when the manager conducting the review writes a report that summarizes the review.

    Any false statements made in an employee review report that damages the career of a worker are considered defamation of character. Because the employment review report represents the most important piece of evidence, proving defamation during an employee review is easier to do than proving other types of employment defamation.

    Professional Reference

    The most common type of employment defamation involves a previous employer making false statements to a potential employer that prevents you from landing a job. Although the United States Congress has not passed any laws that restrict what a former employer says about a worker, any employer that makes false statements that damages a former worker’s career has committed defamation of character.

    Since professional references are often done over the phone, it can be difficult to prove defamation unless the potential employer you interviewed with is willing to support your claim of defamation. Asking for a reference in written form is an effective strategy to prevent defamation of character.

  • Why Should I Hire an Employment Defamation Attorney?

    If you accuse a previous employer of defamation, the previous employer will not take your claim seriously unless you hire an employment lawyer who specializes in handling workplace defamation cases. Partnering with an experienced defamation in the workplace attorney helps you in several ways.

    Collect and Organize Evidence

    Defamation of character cases at work represent one of the most difficult civil cases to win, especially if most or all of the evidence is based on witness accounts. Working with one of the highly-rated employment lawyers at Morgan & Morgan helps you gather and organize the evidence you need to support your allegations. Evidence can include a copy of an employment review report, your job performance records, and a written document that details an employer reference.

    Your employment attorney interviews witnesses to support your version of events. Witness accounts of your previous employer committing defamation can boost your case if you have enough persuasive evidence to submit during a civil trial.

    Negotiate a Settlement

    Either before or during a civil trial, both parties have the opportunity to meet and negotiate a settlement. Negotiations frequently take place after the discovery phase of litigation. Both parties exchange evidence and the statements made by witnesses. The employment lawyer you hire from Morgan & Morgan starts negotiations by presenting an offer. From there, the lawyer representing your former employer either accepts the initial offer or presents a counteroffer. Negotiations can include several counteroffers made by both parties until either a settlement is reached or an impasse occurs that leads to the trial phase of the litigation process.

    Files Your Lawsuit Before the Deadline

    You have a limited amount of time to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Referred to as the statute of limitations,  the deadline for filing a civil lawsuit typically runs between two and four years. However, the deadline set by your state might be as low as one year or as high as six years. If you fail to file a civil lawsuit before the expiration of the statute of limitations, you can expect the court to dismiss your case. Hiring one of the skilled litigators at Morgan & Morgan ensures you file your civil lawsuit as quickly as possible.

    The sooner you file a civil lawsuit against a previous employer that defames you, the sooner you can receive compensation for your financial losses.

    Provides Legal Support During the Trial

    If negotiations fail to resolve your defamation claim, the employment lawyer from Morgan & Morgan representing you will not hesitate to take your case to trial. The trial process for an employment defamation of character lawsuit can last longer than most other types of civil trials. This is because of the lack of physical evidence that demonstrates a previous employer should be held legally liable for committing one or more acts of defamation.

    During a defamation trial, your attorney examines and cross-examines witnesses that include the owner, manager, and/or manager who made the disparaging statements about your professional skills and/or personal character. You can expect to receive advice about how to handle yourself while under oath, as well as prepare for the civil trial by undergoing a mock question and answer session with your employment attorney.

  • What Are the Types of Compensation for an Employment Defamation Lawsuit?

    The most important responsibility of your lawyer is to convince the judge hearing your case to award you monetary damages. As with most types of personal injury cases, the judge hearing your defamation in the workplace case can award three broad types of compensation.

    Economic Damages

    Employment lawsuits differ from personal injury cases because of the difference in the type of economic damages awarded by a judge. For an employment defamation lawsuit, the judge hearing your case awards economic damages based on lost and future wages. Your attorney calculates lost wages by referring to how much money you lost because your employer's actions prevented you from finding gainful employment. Future wages are calculated by predicting how much in wages you would have earned had another employer hired you.

    Economic damages also can come in the form of medical expenses. As a victim of the false, disparaging comments made by your previous employer, you might have developed medical issues such as the symptoms of stress. For medical expenses, you must submit documents that verify you received a diagnosis, as well as underwent treatment for any health issues.

    Non-Economic Damages

    Being on the receiving end of the false, malicious statements made by a former employer can leave behind intense mental and emotional scars. As a type of non-economic damages, pain and suffering does not come with a price tag like the expenses that fall under the compensation category of economic damages. To calculate the value of non-economic damages, your employment lawyer refers to a formula based on the value of the economic damages.

    Punitive Damages

    Punitive damages do not compensate you directly for economic and non-economic reasons. Instead, judges have the legal flexibility to award plaintiffs in employment defamation cases compensation as punishment for damaging their careers. Judges also award punitive damages to deter a defendant from committing additional illegal acts of defamation.

  • Contact Morgan & Morgan

    When you search for the best legal counsel, you want to consider several factors. For an employment defamation case, experience is the most important factor to consider because of the difficulty you might have in winning your case. At Morgan & Morgan, our team of employment lawyers brings experience to the table when seeking monetary damages for workplace defamation cases. For more than three decades, Morgan & Morgan has helped clients fight back against employment defamation by receiving favorable judgments for just compensation.

    Schedule a free case evaluation today with one of the employment attorneys from Morgan & Morgan.

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