In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and personal injury cases, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
New Hampshire’s Defamation Laws
Are you on the hunt for a new job? If the answer is yes, then you might be concerned about what a former employer, if called for a reference, might say about you. A single reference can be the difference between landing your dream job and receiving a dreaded rejection letter. If your former boss is disseminating misleading or false information about you, then your job search could be doomed from the get go.
New Hampshire is one of the few states in the country that has yet to enact any specific laws regarding defamation and references. For example, the majority of states afford legal protection to former employers against defamation lawsuits. This is to say that an employer cannot be held legally liable (i.e. cannot be sued) for info given or statements made to a prospective employer, as long as their statements are made honestly and do not supersede the boundaries established in the statute. New Hampshire does not afford this form of protection, which means that a New Hampshire employer is not legally protected from a defamation claim.
Of course, this is not the only situation in which a potential defamation suit could arise; however, in any scenario where a plaintiff would like to file a legal claim, there are four specific elements that must be met in order to proceed with the defamation suit:
1. False Statement of Fact
The claim’s defendant must have made factual statements about the plaintiff that can be proven untrue. If the injurious statement or comments was truthful and factual, then a defamation claim cannot be filed. Furthermore, if the statement made is classified as an opinion, it is not classified as constituting a defamation claim.
2. Distribution or Publication of False Statement of Fact
The plaintiff was the one responsible for publishing the statement. Simply put, the injurious statement must have been to another individual besides the plaintiff themselves. It could also be published online in such a manner that others are able to hear or read about the untruths made about the plaintiff. Self-publication has also been determined to meet this requirement.
The requirement for self-publication is also met if an employer makes an untrue statement to their employee as the reason for their being fired, and the employee is required to repeat the untrue statement to prospective employers when asked to state why they were fired from their previous job.
3. New Hampshire Does Not Classify Much As Privileged
The majority of states in the United States classify statements made two or more parties as privileged statements. So long as these statements were made without malicious intent, such statements cannot be held accountable as defamatory statements.
New Hampshire does not consider privileged statements to be a viable foundation for a claim of defamation.
4. Evidence of Harm
Statements may be classified as defamatory due to the virtue of their content, also known as “per se”. In such cases, the plaintiff is not required to prove that the untrue statement created harm. In many states, statements that an employee has committed a crime or lacks the appropriate skills for a certain position are classified as a defamatory statement per se.
Each state creates its own definition of defamation with varying requirements and rules. Before a New Hampshire resident decides to initiate a claim for defamation or makes a statement that could potentially be classified as defamatory, they must ensure that they thoroughly understand all of New Hampshire’s regulations.
New Hampshire’s Unique Defamation Rule With Regards to Employees and Employers
New Hampshire maintains a unique aspect to its defamation laws with regards to how the state views employee and employer defamation lawsuits. In the majority of states, if a former employer is being as a job reference and provides info to a potential employer, the former employer being used as a reference cannot be legally sued for defamation. As long as the information the former employer provided is truthful, then they are considered exempt from a defamation claim. However, in the state of New Hampshire, a former employment is not legally protected from a prospective defamation lawsuit. A claim will be deemed a success or failure based upon its own merits.
To learn more about New Hampshire’s defamation laws or to find out if you have a legal claim against another party, please contact our law firm today to speak with one of our experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyers. Your initial consultation is free.
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