Intentional Torts: Defamation

Defamation can be written (libel) or oral (slander). Assume that you are in an at-will state where you can fire an employee for any reason or no reason – as long as it isn’t for a reason protected by law. The employee’s name is “Bob”. Lets assume that Bob was separated from employment because he was a lousy employee. He was frequently late to work, he didn’t get along well with his co-employees and you caught him saying inappropriate things to another employee about a female employee of the company. Candidly, you feared that not only was Bob just a bad employee – he would expose you to liability for sexual harassment. After you fired Bob – you heard he had caused a previous employer to get sued for sexual harassment. After his termination you get a call from a friend who works for a company where Bob has applied for a job. Your friend said that Bob was “the best interview I ever had” and based upon what she learns from you – “we think we are going to hire Bob.” Having taken SECR 5010, analyze your potential liability for defamation if you tell your friend what you know and what you think. I’ve attached a law review article which you may find helpful.

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