Defamation & Slander

The First Amendment may grant us the freedom of speech,
but it does not protect defamation and slander.

Even though the First Amendment may grant us the freedom of speech, it does not protect defamation and slander. The First Amendment in no way protects people from facing the consequences of what they say. This is especially true when a person makes harmful or false statements – spoken or in writing – about others.  Fortunately, laws provide legal recourse and protections should you happen to suffer damages when another person makes false statements that attack your business, reputation, or community standing.

If you believe that your reputation had been damaged and you have been defamed, Bracken Lamberton is here to help you. Our dedicated attorneys have decades of experience working with clients who have been defamed through oral statements (slander) as well as by written word (libel). Our expert experience allows us to understand the nuances of defamation law, and we will utilize that expertise to help you obtain the justice that you deserve. We can also assist you if you have been wrongly accused of defaming another person.

Defamation cases are often highly complex, and you should not trust your case to just anyone. Bracken Lamberton has the skills, expertise, and dedication to win your case.

Understanding Defamation

Proving defamation can be challenging, but the basic elements include:

  • Statements that are defamatory or false but are presented as though they are factual
  • These defamatory statements are about you
  • These statements are published and observed or heard by a third party, either spoken or in writing
  • The defamation results in some injury to you, such as the loss of a job or a business opportunity

You may be a medical professional, teacher, businessperson, politician, or anyone else, and words can cause damage. False statements can destroy a career. If you are the target of defamation, you must fight back and take action to protect your reputation.

How Are Libel and Slander Different?

When a person is defamed in writing, as in a newspaper or a book, it is considered libel. The definition of libel is also used to cover not only individuals but businesses as well. Libel may include a visual depiction as well as published statements that are made on the television or radio. Since written and printed words can be read by many people, libel can be extremely damaging to an individual’s reputation.

Slander occurs when defamatory words are spoken. This form of defamation occurs when a third party hears the false remarks. In recent years, courts have determined that there is little difference between these two forms of defamation.  Courts typically view libel as more injurious than slander, which is important because it affects how the court views damages.

How Do You Prove Defamation and Slander?

Each state has its own rules about defamation and slander. However, a few general rules must always be proven to show that statements are, in fact, defamatory. Keep in mind that the false statement can not merely be offensive or insulting. To be considered defamation and slander, the statement must harm the reputation of the targeted individual. Such a statement might be considered defamatory if it is:

False – The statement that is considered defamatory cannot be true as true statement are not thought to do damage to others;

Published – The spoken, pictured, written, or gestured defamatory statement must be published, and a third party observed it. The statement does not have to be published in a magazine or newspaper. Publishing can occur on social media, television, speech, radio, or even an overheard loud conversation.

Injurious – If you are alleging defamation and slander, you must prove that the statements harmed you somehow. For example, if someone posted a false statement on social media and you lost your job as a result, this would be considered defamation.

Unprivileged – The defamatory remarks must be unprivileged. Some statements that are made are privileged and cannot be considered defamation or slander. Such an example would be the testimony of a witness in court or remarks made by lawmakers in the legislative chamber.

To prove that a statement meets all of the above criteria, it is vital that you carefully document any and all details if you feel that someone is committing defamation or slander against you.

Is Defamation and Slander Common in Employment Situations?

It is common for defamation and slander to occur in employment. Examples include:

Termination of Employment: When a person has been terminated or has resigned, the reasons for either should remain confidential. An employer should never criticize or discuss an employee with other employees, especially discussing the cause of termination.

Job References: Employers must be very careful about what they say of a former employee. If not true and provable, negative statements could harm the employee’s reputation and their further employment chances. Such statements could be considered defamation and slander.

Business Communications: If an employee accidentally makes a false statement in their role as a representative of the company or business, the employer may be held responsible. If the statement is defamatory, the employer may be liable for the remarks.

How Can An Employer Prevent Defamation and Slander?

To prevent a defamation or slander lawsuit, an employer needs to establish clear procedures and policies for:

  • Resignation and termination of employees
  • Rules for business communications and how they will be conducted
  • Guidelines for how job references will be provided.

If you are an employer, the best practice would be to consult with an experienced law firm to assist you in creating these important policies and procedures.

How We Can Help

As individuals, professionals, and businesses, our reputations are extremely important. Without a good reputation, success is difficult to obtain and maintain. At Bracken Lamberton, we understand the value of your reputation, and we are here to help you protect it. We welcome you to contact us for a complimentary case evaluation. Our expert attorney will review your situation, inform you of your rights and any available defenses for your case’s specifics.

Schedule a Free Consultation Today

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