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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11272
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I knew I was going to be fired from a job I had had years

Customer Question

I knew I was going to be fired from a job I had had for 18 years (the office manager told everyone that I was being fired!), so one of them told me. I gathered addresses of people I wanted to thank for their long term confidence and sent a letter stating that I was no longer with that business. I did not say why I left or any notice of where I was going. It was basically a thank you letter and not indicative of any ill feelings toward my employer. Can I be sued for getting those addresses and sending them notification of me no longer being with that business? Can I sue them for defamation of character, if the office manager continues to say negative things about me? This is a small company (Dental Office), so federal laws are less clear.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

There is no liability that could arise simply from thanking people you worked with. However, if those addresses are addresses of clients, and if that list of clients constitutes a "trade secret," and furthermore if you then contacted those clients to start a competing business, you might be exposing yourself to a civil lawsuit for misappropriation of trade secrets. But you'd need to do a lot more to get to that point. It doesn't really seem to be what you describe.

As for suing for defamation of character, stating negative opinions about someone is not against the law. However making false statements of fact (distinct from mere opinion) to third parties can give rise to a claim for defamation if you can prove that you have suffered some sort of quantifiable financial harm as a result of the false statements. For example, telling people that you were "incompetent" would be legal because that is a statement of opinion regarding your ability. Even if you believe the opinion is untrue, you cannot sue for it because opinions are always subjective to the opinion holder. However, if your employer told people that you were fired for testing positive for cocaine and that statement caused you to lose a job opportunity, you could sue for defamation because you have a false statement of fact (you either did or didn't test positive--there is no "opinion" involved) and you suffered a financial loss as a result of the statement. This would be the extent of your recourse under the circumstances you describe.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello again,

I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.

Very best wishes.