Can I sue someone for making false statements that caused me to lose my job?

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Question:

Can I sue someone for making false statements that caused me to lose my job?

Answer:

Slander is legally defined as a false oral communication that injures someone's reputation. Like libel, slander is a form of defamation that can rise to personal injury when a party's reputation or financial standing is damaged. The only true defense against an allegation of slander is if the communication is true. No matter how malicious the statement, or the intent of the one making the statement, an injured party cannot prevail where the communication is proven to be true. This is even so where the injured party has suffered a financial loss such as the loss of a job.

However, is the statements are proven to be false, the injured party can recover damages. In some jurisdictions, the plaintiff must demand a retraction in order to recover full damages. In these jurisdictions there may be a statute of limitations on the retraction demand, for instance, 20 to 30 days. Even if the defendant issues a retraction, the plaintiff may still pursue a lawsuit, but will only recover actual damages (such as wage loss) and not compensatory damages (such as embarrassment, pain and suffering, etc.).

Additionally, the statute of limitations applies to when a party may bring a claim. Usually, the slandered party must bring a suit within one year of the date the slander occurred or the suit will be barred.

In most cases, a plaintiff does not even need to show harm to his or her reputation where the slander:

  • adversely affected the plaintiff's business or profession;
  • implied that the plaintiff committed a crime;
  • impugned the plaintiff's sexual reputation; or
  • implied that the plaintiff had a communicable disease.

If you are considering pursuing a personal injury for slander case, you should consult with an attorney to determine the particular laws in your state as well as the possible compensation (such as wage loss) that is due you.

 

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