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I am a licensed counselor in Montana. I am also the clinical

program manager for a state...
I am a licensed counselor in Montana. I am also the clinical program manager for a state facility. A prior employer recently told a 3rd party when I worked for them I was fired and caught sleeping with high school students. When I worked for this company I was a counselor in the high school. Is this defamation per se since I am.essentially being slandered for sexual misconduct?
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Montana
JA: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?
Customer: When I was employed for the company it was full time.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: Is this just chat? I don't want to be called.
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Answered in 1 minute by:
9/14/2017
Patrick, Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,216
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Verified

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

Is the statement true? I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
No the statement was straight up malice. I quit the company. I had reported hostile work environment and nothing wss done. I was the passed up on a promotion. I recently hired a new employee and the said employee was told that information when she gave her notice to come work for me.
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I was passed on a promotion after I reported a hostile work environment. I then quit that company and went to work for a state facility.

Thank you. If the statement is false then it is absolutely defamatory. The question is whether there are adequate damages to justify a lawsuit. Have you been financially harmed in some way? Financial losses are the primary measure of damages in defamation suits. So, unless you can connect this statement to a financial loss, you would probably spend way more on a defamation suit than you would ever stand to recover.

I would consider sending a letter to this former employer advising that this statement is completely false and defamatory and that you will take action in the future if similar statements are made. Unless, of course, you have actual financial losses. If you do, then I would definitely see about retaining a local attorney and moving forward with legal action.

If I can clarify anything at all for you, please do not hesitate to ask. It is my pleasure to assist you further if necessary....

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
With it being actual malice and a potenti career ending statement wouldn't it fall under defamation per se and be eligible for punitive damages?
Customer reply replied 3 months ago
I have not suffered any loss yet.

Defamation per se simply means you don't have to presume damages in order to have a lawsuit. Damages of $1 are presumed, thus allowing you to move forward with suit. If you can prove malice, then yes, it is possible to recover punitive damages. But I know few attorneys who would take a case solely on the basis of hoping to recover punitive damages. Juries hate awarding them and they are very hard to prove. All the employer would need to demonstrate is SOME plausible basis for believing what it said. And then when it comes to awarding an amount, you could still wind up with something very small.

The other thing about a lawsuit like this is that truth is an absolute defense to defamation. This means you are essentially going to have a trial over whether you slept with students. All court documents pertaining to the litigation will be public record, and this can bring a lot of attention to an allegation that is obviously embarrassing and damaging. To pursue that solely with the expectation of recovering punitive damages may not be wise. It is, however, certainly an option.

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Customer reply replied 3 months ago
No. Thank you for your feedback.

You are very welcome. If I have answered your questions, please do not forget to leave positive feedback by clicking on the 5 stars at the top of your page, as the attorneys here are not employees of the site and otherwise do not receive credit for spending time with customers. Best wishes to you as you move forward here.

Patrick, Esq.
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 13,216
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Verified
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