Labor & Employment

Fired workers increasingly add defamation claims to their lawsuits

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Workers suing their former companies for wrongful termination and discrimination are increasingly adding defamation claims to their lawsuits.

The defamation claim often alleges that companies gave false reasons for firing a worker, the Recorder (sub. req.) reports.

One lawyer seeing more defamation claims in worker suits is Reed Smith partner L. Julius Turman, who told the Recorder that 60 to 70 percent of his wrongful termination and harassment cases include defamation claims, “whether or not they’re appropriate.”

A defamation claim made a difference in a suit by Robert Sallustio, who alleged the Kemper Independence Insurance Co. wrongly claimed he wasn’t coming to work in the morning before firing him. Sallustio lost his retaliation and wrongful termination claims. But he won a defamation judgment of nearly $5.7 million last year in the Sacramento, California, case.

Defamation claims are also increasing outside the employment context because of comments on social media and review websites, according to Internet law attorney Karl Kronenberger. “I’m shocked at how many people are contacting our firm,” he told the Recorder.

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