Did company defame employee by e-mailing the reasons for his firing?

by on December 2, 2011 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Cafe

A fired employee recently accused his former employer of defaming him, by detailing the reasons for his termination in an e-mail to his Gmail account.

Huh? It’s suddenly defamatory to send an e-mail to an employee’s own account?

The employee contended that it was.

He claimed the e-mail was published to third parties worldwide. This, he said, was because by sending it to the Gmail account, the employer gave Gmail’s operator, Google, the rights to access and distribute it.

The e-mail said the employee had been fired for misusing company resources for his private benefit.

Nice try…
The court hearing the employee’s lawsuit didn’t agree with his creative legal theory. The judge said that just because Google had the right to publish the e-mail, didn’t mean that it had actually done so.

Defamation requires disclosure to at least one third party. So if the employer had cc’d the e-mail to, say, a customer, it might well have been defamatory.

Cite: Nart v. Open Text Corp., No. A-10-CA-870, W.D. Texas, 8/29/11.

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