I am the owner of a small company. A disgruntled ex-employee sent an email to a current employee stating "there is a reason why people are leaving the company. The boss cares only about his interest and career and not about his employees. He also humiliated you publicly and refuses to pay you a good salary. You have no future in that company. Find another job and boss". The employee who received this email showed it to me and has no intention of quitting.
Defamation (sometimes called "libel" if it is WRITTEN, or "slander" if it is SPOKEN) requires the plaintiff (you) to prove that the Defendant: (1) maliciously, (2) published, (3) a false statement, (4) that was defamatory, and (5) the publication of the statement caused compensable damages.
One issue the plaintiff must deal with in a defamation case is whether the utterance at issue is a "false statement" at all. To be a "false statement," an utterance must first be a STATEMENT OF FACT. If someone is saying their OPINION is that you did something illegal, that's not a statement of fact, it's an opinion, and an opinion can be accurate or inaccurate, but it cannot be true or false. Also, a statement that is obviously intended as parody or satire is not considered a "false statement" for defamation purposes.
You must also prove the statement was "defamatory." "Defamatory" means "injurious to one's name or reputation." Let's say that person A tells all your fiends that, when A was riding with you in the car, you ran almost every stop sign you came to, and that you exceeded the speed limit by at least 20 mph for the whole trip. Even if those statements are true, unless you are a professional driver, or a person who is required to obey traffic laws in your job or profession, a jury is unlikely to be convinced that the statements are "injurious to your name or reputation."
Finally, let's assume that a jury found A's statements were "injurious to your name or reputation," perhaps because you are a minister or priest, and people might think ill of you if you don't obey traffic laws. Even then, you would have to show that you were ACTUALLY HARMED in some way that can be alleviated by paying you a sum of money.
Based on the information you provided, it doesn't sound like there was an actionable, defamatory statement. The other issue is whether you would be able to collect any damages if you did win.
I'm licensed to practice law only in Indiana, and we've never met, so I can't give you "legal" advice. My answer is simply "friendly" advice based on my experience as an attorney in Indiana, my knowledge of federal and common law, and common sense. Even if you are in Indiana, employment law questions are very fact specific, and based on the limited information you provided in your post, I can't give you legal advice, and my answer is intended as general information only. It doesn't create an attorney-client relationship.
Let's assume that you could successfully sue for defamation and skip to the most important questions. How much in damages will you be awarded for this apparently one-time event? Probably not much. Even if it is a nice amount of damages, who's paying the judgment? It'd be against your former employee, who probably lacks the ability to pay a judgment. Getting a judgment against someone who can't pay it is the same as losing. You receive nothing either way.
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