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Tina, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
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My husband works for a small church in California. He has recently

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My husband works for a small church in California. He has recently become the object of a board meeting that have recorded minutes that give legitimacy to claims that are false, subjective and ambiguous. The minutes do not reflect an intent to investigate the truthfulness of these claims and are biased in nature. The truthfulness of these claims would be simple to prove, but no attempt was made to do so. My husband is the youth pastor and works at our local high school as well. These claims place him in bad light and imply he is negligent. The church board published these minutes and passed them out to various church members. Does that constitute libel? What course of action should we take?

Hello and welcome.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I am sorry to hear of your husband's difficult situation. Before I can give you an accurate answer to your question, please provide the following additional information:

Does the board have reason to know that the statements are false?

I look forward to assisting you as soon as I have received this information. Thank you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

The board made no effort to verify the claims of the janitor, but published her claims as fact in the minutes. There are other claims made as well, but it is unclear as to where they originated. I believe the board should have had reason to know they were false.

One of the claims stated my husband was using rooms in the church he had no business being in, the board should have known that was false because most rooms in the church are locked and my husband does not have keys. Also the board should have reason to know the claim "the church van use is out of control" was false because the van has only been used approximately four times in the last 6 months, and has been parked right out side the church office, also the mileage on the van reflect minimal use. That claim appears to be slanderous because it is recorded with malevolent language and tone.

Also claims of "inappropriate things" being witnessed with no explanation of those things has very negative connotations, especially when working with young people.

My husband was not notified of the claims, he found out about them because he saw a copy of the minutes.

I see. Thank you for providing this additional information, Tamra. It is very helpful and does indicate that a claim of defamation could be pursued since the board should have know of the falsity of at least some of the claims. The source of the false statements could also be sued and other claims, such as intentional interference with business or contract relations could be pursued as well since it appears there may be an intent to interfere with your business reputation and business dealings.

It would be best to retain a local attorney to represent him in this matter. The attorney may recommend first sending a demand letter to the board demanding a retraction and public apology in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit, which can be expensive and time-consumng. This would likely mitigate much of the damage which may have been done to your husband's reputation.

If the case cannot be settled, then legal action would normally be appropriate under these circumstances.

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. Please remember to rate my service once you have all the information you need. If you have any other questions, please ask me – I’ll be happy to respond. Thank you!


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