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Defamation and Employer References

Talk with an attorney before making potentially defamatory statements about former employees.

• A federal court in the District of Columbia threw out a lawsuit brought by a worker against his former employer for allegedly defamatory references given to prospective employers. The worker was employed as a bookkeeper for a secular company. His employment was marked by difficulties with fellow employees. On one occasion, a disagreement escalated into a fist fight. Without explanation or advance notice, the worker quit his job. He later applied for another job, and the prospective employer sought references from the former employer. One supervisor stated that the worker was "wholly incompetent" and "not eligible for rehire." Another supervisor stated that the worker was "undesirable as a candidate for rehire," and that he had "personality conflicts" with co-workers. The worker sued his former employer, and these supervisors, for defamation on the basis of these statements. The defendants ...

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  • November 1, 1991