A person’s professional reputation is an important aspect of his or her career. Harm to it can have serious consequences for employees in the workplace. If you believe you have a legal issue involving defamation at a job environment in the Atlanta area, you can seek advice from the employment discrimination attorneys at Mays & Kerr. We are familiar with the laws that govern the rights and obligations of employers and employees throughout the state of Georgia.Seeking Compensation for Defamation
A defamation claim in Georgia requires the plaintiff to show that the defendant made a false and defamatory statement about him or her in an unprivileged communication to a third party. The plaintiff must show at least negligence on the part of the defendant. Finally, the plaintiff must show special harm, unless the statement is actionable without a showing of special harm.
There are two forms of defamation: libel and slander. Georgia law defines libel as “a false and malicious defamation” that would tend to injure the person’s reputation and expose him or her to contempt, hatred, or ridicule. According to the statute, libel occurs when the defamatory communication is in print, writing, pictures, or signs. Georgia law also requires that the information must be published to be actionable. However, libel is considered published when it is communicated to anyone other than the person who is the subject of the libel.
Slander is oral defamation. In Georgia, slander may occur when a person imputes a crime to the plaintiff, claims the plaintiff has a communicable disorder, or says the plaintiff committed a “debasing act.” It also extends to statements that are related to an individual’s profession and intended to harm his or her reputation within it. Damage is inferred in these statements, which are known as “slander per se.” Slander may also occur when a person makes a communication using disparaging words, from which special damages naturally flow. This type of slander requires the plaintiff to prove the special damages.
Truth is a defense to claims of defamation. Additionally, Georgia law provides privileges for a number of communications, including statements made in good faith in the performance of a legal or moral private duty. A communication that is made in good faith in an effort to protect a person’s own interest in the matter is also privileged. Statements that are privileged shield the person making them from liability, at least in part.Remedies
In some cases, damages are inferred from the nature of the statements made. In other circumstances, the plaintiff will have to prove that he or she suffered a specific type of harm. The amount of damages a plaintiff is entitled to receive will depend upon the nature of the defamatory communication and to whom it was made. In workplace defamation cases, a person may be able to show that he or she lost employment opportunities as a result of the unlawful statements.
The Georgia statute of limitations for defamation is quite short, lasting just one year from the alleged statement. A person who believes he or she has been harmed must act quickly to ensure that his or her rights are protected.Protect Your Rights by Consulting an Employment Litigation Attorney in Atlanta
The employment litigation lawyers at Mays & Kerr understand the impact of a damaged reputation for individuals in Atlanta and elsewhere in Georgia. We have the experience needed to assert your rights in these complex claims, or advise you on your options more broadly. If you have a legal issue involving defamation in the workplace, call us at 1-877-986-5529 or contact us online.