An article published in my small town newspaper that openly supported the employer I had filed a sexual harassment and retaliation claim against with the EEOC, has continued to link and update that article monthly so that it comes up as the number one hit in all Google searches that include my name (other parties' names/organization are NOT connected to the article published August 2008 in Google results). A positive professional article printed by the same publication just a year prior has been completely suppressed, and is inaccessible. Since the negative article paints me as a villain rather than victim, this continues to damage my online profile and has impacted my employment opportunities. I have a spotless record of excellence in my profession. Do I have any recourse?
Get a retraction if untrue.
Under Washington law, defamation claims have four elements, each of which must be proven by the plaintiff: (1) falsity; (2) an unprivileged communication; (3) fault on the part of the defendant; and, (4) damages. However, in your case, even if you prove all four elements of defamation, your claim may still be defeated because the defendant is a news outlet.
Washington courts recognize the "Fair Report" privilege which grants a level of immunity to news outlets. This privilege extends to accurate reports of court proceedings as well as documents filed in those proceedings. See Mark v. Seattle Times, 635 P.2d 1081 (Wash. 1981). A plaintiff cannot defeat the fair report privilege by a showing that the defendant acted with actual malice. Alpin Indus. Computers, Inc. v. Cowles Pub. Co., 57 P.3d 1178, 1188 (Wash. App. Ct. 2002).
*PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL OR CONTACT ME. I am only licensed in Washington. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship. This answer does not constitute legal advice.