Can I sue for defamation of character against my former employer? 5 Answers as of April 23, 2013

I sent a text to my former employer from a year ago asking if she would be a reference. I left on good terms, so I thought. She sent back that she could not based on a missing stove when I left and other missing items and she could not recommend me for rehire! I sent back that I was not a thief and what else was missing? I talked to two other employee that I had worked with and received replies that the stove was not missing. I sent this info to the ex emp. She said she would look into it. What are my rights? I did not steal a stove or anything else

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Barton Barton & Plotkin
Barton Barton & Plotkin | Maurice Ross
I regret to inform you that you have no claim for defamation merely because your former employer refused to provide a reference. Defamation requires a false statement to a third party that is intentionally or knowingly false. If your employer reasonably believed that you stole items, then it would not be defamatory for him to inform third parties regarding such belief. Further, your former employer has no obligation to provide a reference for you. Further, claims for defamation require false statements of fact, not opinion. It is perfectly appropriate for your former employer to express the opinion that he would not rehire you.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 4/23/2013
Lydy & Moan | C. Gary Wilson
Did the ex employer report any of these allegations to anyone other than you? What is your damage, other than upset?
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 4/23/2013
Law Offices of Charles R. Perry
Law Offices of Charles R. Perry | Charles R. Perry
You have not been defamed, as the message in question did not go to any third party. I also see no basis for a claim against your former employer.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/23/2013
What a former employer tells a prospective employer in a job reference is privileged, and may not be the basis of a suit, unless you can prove it was done with actual malice. If the employer believes this is true, you can not win your suit.
Answer Applies to: Georgia
Replied: 4/23/2013
Law Offices of William S. Lindheim | Fred Fong
It will depend on what was said and to whom. If the past employer simply was letting you know of the basis for not giving you a good reference because of some missing items, it is unlikely to be defamation as the communication was solely between you and him/her (i.e. you were not defamed in front of anyone). If the ex-employer actually disseminated this information to other potential employers and you were denied a job because of the wrongful accusation of theft, then you have an action for slander/libel.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 4/23/2013
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