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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 29996
Experience:  Former judicial law clerk, lawyer
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I have a business in Oklahoma. I fired one employee and told

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I have a business in Oklahoma. I fired one employee and told a different employee about the reason for the firing. Can I be sued for this?

My name is XXXXX XXXXX I'd be happy to answer your questions today.

If the reason given was truthful, unless you violated a specific confidentiality agreement with employees, that would not give rise to a cause of action. There is a tort for publicly distributing private facts, but that requires a widespread audience: one person doesn't qualify. There is also a cause of action for intentionally interfering with someone's business or ability to work elsewhere, but telling one employee what happened also wouldn't fall within that category.

If the reason give was factually untrue, that could give rise to a lawsuit. But things like "He wasn't a good worker," or "I thought she was lazy," are matters of opinion and cannot be the basis of a defamation lawsuit.

If you have any questions or concerns about what I've written, please reply so that I may address them. It's important to me that you are 100% satisfied with the service I provide. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so that I get credit for answering your question. Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your reply.

As background, I have a therapy office. I told the employee the exact facts of the incident, including where she was sitting, what she said, where I was standing, she was talking on the phone at the reception desk while laughing about court testimony in a serious court case, the fact that clients in the waiting room were within earshot of her and could hear what she was saying. Then I told her my impression, which was that her behavior showed poor judgment and was inappropriate. I said all of this without negative emotion. I did not say anything negative about her character, just her actions and that it was inappropriate and showed poor judgment.

There was no confidentiality agreement between me and the fired employee.

Your impression of her behavior is protected. You're allowed to have and express an opinion. If the facts that you relayed were truthful, that doesn't give rise to a cause of action. If she's not your patient (and this happened in public), privilege doesn't apply and that would be the only other basis for trying to claim a cause of action.
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