Category: 

How Do I Prove Defamation of Character?

Showing damage to an occupational reputation is one way to prove defamation of character.
Defamation of character can include a false published statement referring specifically to an individual.
Article Details
  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 25 November 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2014
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Peruvians eat more than 60 million guinea pigs a year.  more...

December 21 ,  1933 :  Dried blood serum was first produced.  more...

In law, defamation of character refers to a false statement, either written or spoken, against someone that harms him in some way. A defamation of character claim is considered to be extremely difficult to prove in a court of law. Many lawyers agree, however, that if you have truth on your side, it is possible. To prove a claim of this sort, you must be able to prove that a claim was made and it was false. You must then prove that this statement was shared with a third party and that it caused you some sort of harm.

Proving that a statement was made against you is the first step to proving a defamation of character claim. This statement could have either been spoken or written. If the malicious claim was spoken, then this is known as slander. If it was written down or published, however, it is then known as libel.

After you can prove that a statement has been made against you, the next step is to prove that this statement is actually false or not privileged information. Privileged information is often associated with statements made during a court case. If the statement turns out to be true, or even partly true, this can harm your chances of winning a defamation of character case. For example, if someone informs a third party that you are a drug addict, you must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that this is untrue.

Ad

The next step in proving a defamation of character claim is proving that it was shared or published. It could have either been spoken to one person or a group of people, or it could have been written down or published for people to read. The statement made must also refer specifically to you.

The last and, possibly, the most difficult step in proving defamation of character is showing that the false statement made by the defendant has caused you some type of damage. Actually causing damage and having the potential to cause damage, however, are two different things. You must be able to prove that your reputation has already been tarnished. Generally the easiest types of damage to prove are problems with your occupation and business losses.

There are a number of defenses in a defamation of character case, with the truth being the best. If you find that you are the defendant in a defamation of character case, your best defense would be to prove that the statement that you made is true. Another defense is privileged information. No matter how false or slanderous, statements that were made during a court case are usually protected from defamation of character claims.

Opinions are also typically protected. For example, if you told a colleague "I think Bob Jones is a drug addict," this is more likely to be interpreted as an opinion. On the other hand, if you said "Bob Jones is a drug addict," there is more of a chance that you will be found in the wrong.

Ad

More from Wisegeek

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

anon948311
Post 18

My husband has left me and I posted on Facebook that it's sad that he thinks he is leaving me for someone who is better, but isn't even a nurse as she claims and I did not use her name in any of it. She then sent nasty, name-calling messages to my inbox on Facebook and I made them public so everyone can see. Is this slander or harassment? Can I get in trouble for this? He says they are going to press charges against me when I have not said anything with her name in it except making the private message public, but I never responded to it.

anon948019
Post 17

I was fired because when I told the general manager that her email to a third party support vendor making me look like I was being problematic was unprofessional and uncalled for. She got upset and at one point started yelling and cussing me out.

This was Friday. On Monday, I got yelled at and cussed out by the owner and got fired. Well, they lied to the unemployment commission saying that I was being problematic about new equipment coming in and fighting over salaries. If it turns out I do not get my unemployment benefits - and the agency has transcripts of what they said about me - is that grounds to sue them for slander?

francisdi49
Post 16

I wrote a report on the rip-off report about somebody which was true. A few minutes later, another user said he was going to forward this information to this said person and that I was going to get sued for defamation of character. I am a bit worried about this.

a1b2c3d4e5f6
Post 15

I work with live music as a promoter. In one particular venue, the sound engineer seemed incapable of doing his job with any of my bands.

After one particular show where he seemed to deliberately mess around with the sound so much that the audience complained, I posted on Facebook that he had done this deliberately. He is now threatening to sue me for slander.

I never named him, just said "the in house engineer" and can secure testimony from the bands concerned who will say that he deliberately ignored their specific requests at soundcheck.

I have no money. If he goes ahead, should I seek out a "no win, no fee" solicitor and issue a similar action against him (after this incident he made several untrue allegations against me on his page). In any event - if I have no savings or assets, can the court demand I pay him from my wages or benefits if I lose against him?

anon357175
Post 13

On a social media site, there are 2 groups: group A and group B.

Group A has a lady who keeps on plotting against group B, makes fun of them in the group and also ruins events.

I am a member of both groups and having in mind that both groups are equal and I am not biased towards one group, informed group B that the lady is plotting against them so they should resolve it and be aware. I wanted to end this dispute and the differences between both the groups.

Group B posted my message on Facebook and now the lady from group A messaged me saying that I should get my evidence straight and she will take revenge on me and she has screenshots of everything.

Now my question is whether it is possible to file a case in the scenario?

I would appreciate your cooperation.

anon343666
Post 12

@anon341404: Your situation is a little tricky as far as legal action is concerned. True defamation of character generally involves actual damages, not just hurt feelings because one particular supervisor made an untrue accusation against you. Other co-workers may or may not believe this person's claims, and your employment doesn't appear to be affected, except that you cannot perform your duties from the same depot as others. Do you think these accusations of theft came out of the supervisor's own imagination or was there an actual incidence of company theft in the past?

I'm not a legal professional myself, but I think you would have a stronger case of defamation if you actually experienced a demotion or financial loss or something similar as a direct result of the supervisor's false accusations. Right now, it sounds more like a hostile work environment than actual defamation of character. Only one supervisor is making those claims publicly, and he may have some other personal reason to pick you as the target.

Have you tried taking your concerns to the company's human resource department or higher management? It may be a matter of separating you from this one supervisor or straightening out a misunderstanding that led him to believe you were a thief in the first place.

anon341404
Post 11

One of my supervisors is telling other staff that the reason I cannot work from their depot is because I have stolen, which I have not. Where do I stand?

anon338154
Post 10

I have 14 year old son who is the subject of girl drama. This girl told several people that my son punched her and dragged her by her hair (they were dating at school). Most of his true friends know that his girl made it up, she has been known to make up stories about others, but I am concerned this could follow him. He was never alone with her and no one has ever said that he did it. If my son did this I personally would beat the you now what out if him, but I know he didn't. His friends have told me she started it after she got mad at him when they broke up. What can I do to stop her?

anon335462
Post 9

I was slandered and shamed by a church minister. I was ostracized and all that I spoke to the minister about in confidence was revealed in public. What can I do to address this issue?

anon334521
Post 8

My ex husband's new wife is sending links to a site where my mother was busted for a meth lab, and yes I was there visiting, but not involved and my charges were dropped. Now she is sending links to my friends and family and my husband's friends and family saying I think you should know who this girl really is and what she is hiding from everyone. She is also saying that I'm a deadbeat mother all over my children's pictures and she also sending messages about me using my husband for money and more in depth detailed information as well. Is there anything I can do?

anon334005
Post 7

If a person has been exposed as being unscrupulous in their professional dealings and it has been aired on national television (rogue traders), can you be sued for defamation or libel if you were to name this person/business in a public forum? (facebook)

mustang672
Post 6

A couple years ago my son passed away because the heater (not portable) in his bedroom malfunctioned and it got way too hot for him. The police did their full investigation and found that I was innocent, it was an accident and that it was not just the heater in his room, but other heaters in the whole apartment complex were acting up. His was just the first to go that far and cause damage/death.

I am now having problems with my boyfriend's ex-wife. They are in a custody case and she has sole custody while he gets three days and two nights a week. She has recently taken away all his time with the children (without filling papers to change the parenting time plan) and is giving all kinds of excuses, one of which is that she does not trust me around the kids because of what happened to my son.

Now I have recently learned from friends that she has been going around town telling people that I purposely placed a malfunctioning portable heater in my son's room to kill him. People have started to believe/question me on this and from what I have heard, she is going to try to use this as a reason for him not to get his time with the children (as long as I am around, he can't have them) in court! Can I get her on defamation of character though slander or malicious intent for this? It's not only affecting me, but my boyfriend and his children. They have not seen their father for a month now because of her.

rwright80
Post 4

I will be 18 in one month. I am a high school graduate and college freshman living on my own, and I have been for nearly a year. I am dating someone who is over the age of 18 who I met in college and this girl is calling him a pedophile all over facebook and people ask and she says "text me" "msg me" and this is really bothering him.

They posted his first name in a comment underneath the status. This is horrible and not true. What can I do?

anon170794
Post 3

would it be defamation of character if an employee put you down (as the employer) as a reference when trying to get an apartment and you said that she is new and has stuff to work on? my main boss said i would lose my job because it is defamation of character.

oasis11
Post 2

Sneakers41- I think that anytime you are accusing someone of defamation of character in the workplace that you should seek legal advice by way of defamation of character lawyers.

This area of the law is not as straightforward as other areas and the suits can be very complex. A lawyer can realistically tell you what your odds are in winning and whether the case is worth pursuing.

sneakers41
Post 1

Suing for defamation of character is not easy. For example, if you are suing a company in a defamation of character lawsuit, you will have to prove that the company not only gave out false information about your job performance but you will also have to demonstrate that is was shared publicly causing you difficulty in finding another job.

For example, if your supervisor spread rumors about you that were not true on a public forum like Facebook or Twitter then you might have a case if you can prove that the information not only did not allow you to find another job, but it also was false.

This is why employers are very careful about giving references and many only offer the dates of employment. This way the terminated employee cannot sue the company for defamation.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email