SW Legal studies in Business

Communication Within Corporation Can Be Defamatory
Description

Georgia high court held that while intracorporate communication is generally not subject to claims of defamation by employees or former employees, if the plaintiff can show that defamatory information was spread to employees who had no need to know, there may be a valid claim.

Topic Torts
Key Words

Defamation; Employment

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

Scouten sued his former employer, Amerisave Mortgage, and several employees, all of whom he claimed defamed him by disseminating false information about his termination to other employees of the company. The lower courts dismissed the suit, holding that he was required to allege dissemination of the information outside the company. Scouten appealed.

Decision

Reversed. To recover for oral defamation or slander, one must prove not only the making of a slanderous statement but also publication by communication to other parties. An exception is when the communication is among members of a firm or associates. However, not all intracorporate statements come within the exception, only those statements received by one who because of his duty or authority has reason to receive the information. Scouten alleges that the defamatory statements were disseminated to employees with no need to have access to his private information. This claim should be considered at trial.

Citation

Scouten v. Amerisave Mortgage Corp., 656 S.E.2d 820 (Sup. Ct., Ga., 2008)

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