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California Employees Defamation Blog

Written by Paul Greenberg and edited by Jane Tanimura

Defamation 101

What are the elements of defamation?

The elements of a defamation claim are:

  1. A publication of a false statement to a person/persons other than the plaintiff;
  2. The person/persons who heard the statement reasonably understood that the statement was about plaintiff; and
  3. Reasonably understand the defamatory nature of the statement; and
  4. The defendant failed to use reasonable care to determine the truth or falsity of the statement.

See CACI Jury Instruction 1704.

Note that although in the usual defamation claim, it is the defendant who communicates the defamatory statement to a third party, you may also have a defamation claim under the theory of "compelled self-publication." This happens when you are compelled to communicate the defamatory statement about yourself to a third party. For example, you may be compelled to repeat the defamatory statements your employer made about you when you have to explain to your prospective employer the stated reason you were separated from your previous employer.

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About Paul Greenberg and
Greenberg & Weinmann

paul greenberg

Paul Greenberg is managing partner of Greenberg & Weinmann, a law firm that is committed to advancing justice in the workplace and protecting employee rights. For over 25 years, (the last 20 with partner Iris Weinmann), he has handled legal claims on behalf of employees, including over 50 defamation cases that have resulted in significant compensatory and punitive damages and Labor Code section 1050 penalties, in both state and federal court. Greenberg & Weinmann has successfully litigated defamation claims to verdict and received favorable appellate court decisions upholding or reinstating employee rights with respect to their defamation claims. Greenberg & Weinmann is based in Santa Monica, California but litigates statewide.

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The information contained above is intended for purely informational purposes.
It does not in any way constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. 
Use of such material does not, in any way, constitute an attorney-client relationship; only an express signed agreement can create such a relationship.

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