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The company that I was working for was sold to a company that I formally worked for (for 20 successful years). All employees were informed by the selling company that they would be transferred to the new company (with the exception of one, who was terminated by the purchasing company one year prior). Several weeks later I was told that I was being released before the final transfer, for unknown reasons. I was given a small severance package by the selling company and released that day. I found out later by a friend at the purchasing company that I was slandered by my immediate supervisor at the selling company and as a result the purchasing company decided to eliminate me from the transfer. As it turned out, the supervisor who slandered me was retained by the purchasing company for a short period of time. He was release for incompetence shortly after the sale was completed. Conventional wisdom was that the supervisor who slandered me felt that he would not have been retained if I was not released. Do I have any case here?
Response: Unfortunately, you do not have a case. Your case does meet the strict requirements of slander (defamation) because it was a verbal complaint to people in your organization who were entitled to receive the information from your immediate supervisor. These persons had the right to receive the information even though the information was false.
Generally, in order to win a defamation/slander suit, you must be able to prove all of the elements of defamation. Generally, you must be able to prove (1) that a defamatory statement was made against you; (2) that there was a unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party; (3) if the defamatory statement is a matter of public concern, fault amounting at least to negligence on the part of the publisher--this may not apply to you since you are not a public figure; (4) then finally you have to prove that you suffered damages as a result of the defamation. You do not have a claim for defamation as you would not be able to prove all the elements. Also, you cannot sue the new company for wrongful termination since your were terminated before the final transfer
1. I have witnesses to the slander.
2. The damages that I suffered were; that I lost all benefits that I would have been entitled to if I was not terminated, such as 401K, pension, etc.
3. Would I be entitiled to punitive damages as well if I was successful in a lawsuit?
4. Who could I sue as a result? The selling company? The individual?
You do not have case for a slander because you do not meet the second element:
unprivileged publication of the statement to a third party because the people that received the information are entitled to receive it. Thus, there was no unprivileged publication of the statement.