I was terminated based what I believe is racial discrimination (I am a manager - I was terminated by what company says I started a competing company where as other non-Black managers who did the same thing was not terminated; the allegation is untrue, I am unemployed and has no company whatsoever. My father owns a pet store). I interviewed for another job in the same industry. The potential employer called my original employer and was told that I was running a competing business out of my father's pet store and that I forced co-workers to buy stuff from my father's pet store. As a result, I didn't get the job.
In addition to filing lawsuit for racial discrimination, can I also sue for defamation? I heard about California' anti-slapp (?) law which protects freedom of speech and allows counter attorney's fees?
Your best bet here is to consult with a local employment law specialist (a) to determine whether you have a viable race discrimination claim against your former employer and (b) to send a cease and desist letter to your former employer notifying them that they are defaming you and telling them to stop. You may be able to negotiate a settlement that would require your former employer to provide only a "neutral" reference in future. Anti-SLAPP motions are a concern in defamation cases, but your private employment matter, based on the facts you have posted, is not the type of public issue that an anti-SLAPP motion would typically be filed in. Either way, you should be advised by counsel before you confront your former employer.
I am a California attorney who practices in both California and Federal Courts. My answers are based on California law and practice, which may not be applicable in your particular circumstances or the jurisdiction where your claim has or will be filed. Answers I have posted on this website are for general information only. No attorney-client relationship is or shall be created through this answer, and you should not delay speaking to an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction because of any answer posted on Avvo.
No, an anti-SLAPP would be unsuccessful. Your former employer's statements to your prospective employer aren't acts in furtherance of his freedom of speech or petition in connection with a public issue. They are defamation and statutory blacklisting.
Asker, you are getting deep into litigation fast. Before you go further, I would strongly urge you to retain a local attorney. Now is not the time to try and teach yourself how to practice law.
To answer your specific question, though, Anti-SLAPP motions are generally only available when the lawsuit concerns speech that relates to a public concern. For example, posting a website review or an editorial on a political candidate.
Although an anti-SLAPP motion probably would not be available, you should know that statements employers make in response to reference requests are generally privileged and cannot form the basis for a defamation claim unless you can prove actual malice. That is very difficult to prove.
Again, the law in these areas is very complicated and your lawsuit is destined to fail unless you retain counsel at an early stage in the proceedings. Good luck.
This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.
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