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EMPLOYMENT LAW GUIDE: - page 37 / 134





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guaranteed right (e.g., filing a workers’ compensation claim); (ii) the termination is a result

of the employee doing what the law requires (e.g., serving on a jury); or (iii) the employee is

let go for refusing to do that which the law forbids (e.g., committing perjury).


Intentional Interference With Contractual or Advantageous Relations

Employees also have rights against supervisors, co-workers or other third-parties

based on allegations that the individual wrongfully procured the employee’s discharge or

otherwise interfered with the employee’s employment. In order to bring such a claim, the

employee must show that the individual was motivated by malice, which means a “spiteful,

malignant purpose, unrelated to the legitimate corporate interest.” Consequently, employers

should instruct their managers that personal feelings towards employees should never intrude

into employment decisions.

D. Defamation

A claim for defamation can arise when an employer communicates a false statement

of fact to a third person (not to the employee himself) that damages the employee’s

reputation. In the employment context, defamation claims may arise when employers make

statements regarding employee misconduct, job performance and character traits. Although

employers have a qualified privilege to communicate such information when it serves a

legitimate business interest, it is generally advisable that information concerning employee

conduct (or misconduct) be kept on a “need to know” basis. The other area where

defamation claims may occur concerns references. Former employees have filed claims

based on poor references on the theory that the reference was materially false and damaging.

In order to avoid this type of litigation, many employers will not give references, positive or

negative, beyond confirming dates of employment and positions held.


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