Suppose you are an employer. Employee A accuses B of committing a "firing offense." You fire B on A's say-so, without investigating to see if the charge is true. Maybe you trust, or even like A more than B.

It turns out that A slandered B, who is not guilty of a "firing offense." B can sue A for slander. Can B sue you for acting on A's slander in 1) an "employment at will" state and 2) a state where there is no employment at will?

And are there any western countries where the above facts would not support liability for slander, and therefore you could not be named in a derivative suit?

This question was inspired by this one on Academia, where the OP did not disclose his country.

2 Answers 2


Does the employer then go on to say "we fired the employee for such-and-such" when contacted by potential future employers, or otherwise make the fact of the firing publicly known?
If so, the employer may be committing defamation against B to a third party, which negatively impacts B's likelihood of getting another job.
If no, the employer seems to be lacking a necessary element of defamation, namely the making of a statement about B to a third party.


No. Defamation means that party A makes a false statement about party B to party C. In this case, the employer didn't make any statement about the employee to anyone - the employer simply terminated the employment.

All states have at will employment, but some states do have something called the "good faith exemption," which means that employees must be fired for cause. In a state that has this exemption, the employee could make an argument for wrongful termination. However, under no circumstances could the employee sue the employer for defamation.

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