Employee was commission base, paid for servicing clients (contract was signed agreeing to terms), when she left employment her final paycheck was deducted clients pre-payment for services and company property taking. When she became disruptive on wouldn’t leave premises, police was called to escort her of the premises, and she was told by the officer; that she would need to file a Civil Suit. In respond she started sending harassment emails and text message; she was ask that her and friends cease and desist from posting false statements or I will field a defamation lawsuit with county court. Request was ignored, and slandering posting including my name continues to be posted on social media websites. Do I have a case of defamation? Can I file a lawsuit?
You'd have to prove it was her. Internet posts are totally protected. Even though it is very likely her, if she is not using her real name, or is having others do it, you would have to sue the site, subpoena their IP addresses (the site will fight you like crazy, get ready for heavy attorney's fees) then sue whomever is making the statements. But I will tell you, it is an uphill battle because internet posts have a lot of protection. You should also be aware that Defamation is an unprivileged false statement of fact, which a reasonable person would believe. Opinions are protected. So if something is stated as an opinion, it will not likely be considered defamation. Also, satire and outlandish (meaning a reasonable person would not believe they were fact) comments are protected--otherwise, shows like Saturday Night Live can not exist. Truth is a defense, and once you sue, because the defendant is entitled to prove what she said was true, pretty much all privacy goes out the window--she has a right to get into your business practices, get records, depose employees etc. Slander is SPOKEN defamation. Libel is WRITTEN defamation. "John is a criminal and his business rips employees off by not paying them their wages" can be defamation if it is false. "John is such an a**hole"--totally protected.
Yes, you can file a lawsuit. However, you will need to prove it was the employee among other things.
Have you tried contacting the website to have the information removed? or Responding with the truth?
The answers provided are of a general nature and are not intended to be final or complete answers of any individual's legal questions. Other facts not considered may change the analysis or outcome. Do not rely on information presented herein to address your individual legal concerns. Your receipt of information from this website does not create an attorney-client relationship and the legal privileges inherent therein. If you have a legal question, you should consult an attorney experienced in that area of the law. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you hire an attorney, you should request information about the attorney's qualifications and experiences. We do not have an attorney-client relationship. Only those persons who have a signed written fee agreement and authority to represent with me is an actual client. This response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than my educated opinion or viewpoint. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. I recommend you consult a lawyer if you want professional assurance that this information, and your interpretation of it, is appropriate to your particular situation. Do not act on any information in this response without seeking legal advice from an attorney in your area. NOT LEGAL ADVICE. FOR EDUCATION AND INFORMATION ONLY. DO NOT RELY ON ANY ADVICE YOU RECEIVE FROM ME OR ANY OTHER ATTORNEY IN THIS FORUM. Legal advice comes after a complete review of the facts and relevant documents and an expressed (written) agreement of representation that forms attorney-client confidentiality. Neither of these two events can occur in this forum.
If your evidence shows the ex-employee asked, helped, or encouraged her friends to post false and derogatory statements about you or your business online during the past year, then both the ex-employee and her friends could be liable for defamation or related causes of action.
If there is enough circumstantial evidence to support your theory that the ex-employee or one of her friends posted the false and derogatory statements about you or your business online, then you might be able to file a defamation lawsuit naming the ex-employee without having to incur the expense of confirming the identity of the person or people who authored the statements.
Even if you have a viable defamation claim, it will be important to consider whether your damages justify hiring a competent defamation attorney to write and send a retraction/deletion demand letter or file and litigate a lawsuit for you.
If you have suffered or believe you will suffer substantial economic damages, you should contact an Arizona defamation attorney for a consultation. He or she will be able to evaluate your evidence, determine whether you have a viable defamation claim, determine if other claims might be viable, such as intentional interference with economic advantage or false light invasion of privacy, and help you estimate your damages.
Besides defamation, you may have a tortuous interference with business claim.
Search on Avvo for a defamation lawyer in your local. You can then discuss your situation with a lawyer in more detail. Most lawyers on Avvo offer a free phone consultation.
This post is provided for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice specific to you. This general information is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in your jurisdiction. The attorney client relationship is not established by this post.