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Recent Rulings: Defamation

A Connecticut court recently held that an employer who told a former employee's prospective employer that he had been "terminated" was not entitled to a dismissal of the case.  The employee was laid off from the company, and he had evidence in the form of an unemployment notice to show that he had been let go due to lack of work.  When he applied for a new job, the employer told the company that he applied to that he had been "terminated," which led to the employee being turned down for the new job.  The court said that there was enough evidence that the employer did commit defamation for the employee to go to court.
Nelson v. Tradewind Aviation, 2011 WL 3427146
(Conn. Super. July 1, 2011) (Doherty, J.).  

A Connecticut court has held that a physician who was given a poor reference by a previous employer could continue with his lawsuit for defamation after the employer moved to dismiss.  In that case, the physician had signed a severance agreement with the hospital for which he had been working, and the agreement contained a clause prohibiting any disparaging remarks about the physician.  When the physician applied for a job at a different hospital, he was not given the job based on a negative review from his previous employer.  The court held that these facts were sufficient to carry on with his case. 
Ibe v. Manchester Memorial Hospital, 2011 WL 3198711
(Conn. Super. June 28, 2011) (Doherty, J.).  

In an interesting twist on the usual employer-defames-employee situation, a trial court judge allowed a defamation action against a former employee to go forward.  The employee had been fired by the employer over a dispute regarding pay.  When both the employee and the employer showed up at a networking event, the former employee drank too much booze and told the people at the event that the employer was a "scumbag," that "he did not pay anyone" and that the employer had "ripped off" the employee.  As he was leaving, the employee also threw a glass of wine on the employer.  Even in difficult termination situations, it is important to remain polite and civil. 
Murphy v. Rish, 2011 WL 1033649 (Conn. Super. Feb. 18, 2011). 

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