Is defamation of character in employment under personal injury lawyers?

Is defamation of character in employment under personal injury lawyers?


Employment Questions

in California Posted 5 years, 10 months ago

11 Responses

Profile Picture of Kenneth Petrini
Kenneth Petrini

Principal at None

Are you asking whether you should contact a personal injury lawyer for a defamation case? Generally, yes. Personal injury lawyers will typically handle all manner of torts and defamation is one. Just be aware that defamation isn't shown simply if an employer says you don't do good work, etc. Then again, most personal injury lawyers will tell you quickly if they think you have a case.

Contact me to discuss further.

Ken Petrini
petrinilaw@aol.com

THIS IS INTENDED AS GENERAL DISCUSSION AND NOT AS LEGAL ADVICE.

Share this Answer
Profile Picture of Edward de Guzman

Edward de Guzman

Would it be defamation if its not entirely true or does it have to be entirely false ? And at what point does a supervisor loses his privilege ? Does it matter if the employee is temporary or a permanent employee ?

Profile Picture of Kenneth Petrini
Kenneth Petrini

Principal at None

First, the statement must be defamatory. Calling me a WOP is not. Calling me a bad lawyer, probably is not. Saying I am a dishonest lawyer, may be. Saying I committed a crime, is.

Second, truth is a defense. The truthful part must be the defamatory part. So, if saying I am a dishonest lawyer is defamtaory, it is not enough to prove I am a lawyer but that I am dishonest. As a defense, the burden is on the defendant. But, say I say "Joe raped a teen-age nun who was wearing a blue dress." When it comes to truth, the color of the dress would not be relevant. It still would be a defense if the dress were red but the rest was true. Unless I am aleging statutory rape, the age may also be irrelevant. So, in other words it is all fact-based.

Third, the privilege usuallyu extends to responding to requests for references, etc. There is no general privilege to say defamatory things in tthe work place. It would not matter really whether you were part-time or full-time. But again, it must be defamatory, not simply insulting, though you might fashion other torts for insulting. Opinions, performance appraisals, etc. while insulting are seldom defamtory. If you wish to discuss in private (though I cannot offer legal advice or reepresentation in California), I'd be happy to respond to the facts.

Share this Answer
Profile Picture of Andy Chen
Andy Chen

Attorney-at-law at The Law Office of Andy I. Chen

Hi Edward,

There is no way to answer your question in general. Defamation is a civil offense. Personal injury is also a civil offense. A personal injury lawyer may do other civil offenses (like defamation), but they don't have to. It is up to each lawyer to decide what he or she does so the best way is to simply find a lawyer and ask whether or not they handle defamation cases.

Most personal injury lawyers I know only do cases where someone has been physically hurt (e.g. car accident, tripped and fell, etc) and do not do defamation cases.

Ken is correct about proving defamation. The person who said the words may have had a privilege for saying the words. The words had to have been published to others and also have been false in order to be defamatory.

Hope that helps.

Andy

Share this Answer
Profile Picture of Edward de Guzman

Edward de Guzman

Would it be defamation if its not entirely true or does it have to be entirely false ? And at what point does a supervisor loses his privilege ? Does it matter if the employee is temporary or a permanent employee ?

Profile Picture of Andy Chen
Andy Chen

Attorney-at-law at The Law Office of Andy I. Chen

Hi Edward,

As to it being entirely true or entirely false, I agree with Ken that a court would most likely view it in pieces. The pieces that are true will likely not be defamatory. The pieces that are false will. That's in general, but as Ken illustrated, it depends on what the main thrust of the defamatory accusation is. If the main point of the statement is true, then I'd say there is no defamation case.

How far a privilege to defame extends depends on the circumstances. If there are benefits to having the statement (even if defamatory) be said, the privilege will exist. This is why privileges in court and legislative proceedings extend very far. In the work context, I believe most supervisors have a very limited privilege to merely give references. The privilege usually only allows supervisors to answer 3 questions: 1) Did the employee work for you? 2) What dates did the employee work for you? 3) Would you rehire the employee? If the supervisor said more, then it depends very heavily on what he or she said and the necessity of saying it to determine whether a privilege applies.

Lastly, I have not looked it up before, but I do not believe that it matters for defamation or privilege purposes whether the employee is temporary or permanent. For example, there is not (as best as I know) a different privilege for permanent employees versus temporary employees.

Hope that helps.

Andy

Share this Answer
Profile Picture of Edward de Guzman

Edward de Guzman

Does the Defendant have a requirement to prove beyond reasonable doubt or by clear and convincing evidence that his defamatory words are in fact true since he has the burden of proof to prove that its true ? Or is it the Plaintiff that has the requirement to prove its falsity by clear and convincing evidence or beyond reasonable doubt ?

Profile Picture of Andy Chen
Andy Chen

Attorney-at-law at The Law Office of Andy I. Chen

The general rule is the plaintiff must prove his civil case by a preponderance of the evidence. This is lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt and clear and convincing standards you cited, but what constitutes preponderance of the evidence depends on the facts. There is no clear cut definition.

Once plaintiff proves this, the burden shifts to the defendant for him to prove by a preponderance of the evidence any defenses (such as truth) that he believes applies.

Share this Answer
Profile Picture of kwmdkj

kwmdkj

I was layed off in a "right to work" state. The reasoning given by my employer was, "you made me look like like an idiot twice" I owe you nothing. We don't need you anylonger give the keys back and you can leave this property, Now. I had a perfect attendance record there was never any write ups no repremands no file what so ever. It was based on personality differences

Profile Picture of kwmdkj

kwmdkj

I was anxious when I left that day and the days to come. I still feel he defamed my character that day in front of other employees. He created a hostile environment one that made me fearful for my future with another company my friends my relationships with others in general...

Profile Picture of kwmdkj

kwmdkj

Please hear the whole story and the truth will make all the difference.

Need legal help?


We make it simple and affordable to create documents and connect with a lawyer.


Get started