Can You Sue For Slander?
Can you sue for slander? Can you sue for slander on social media?
What is slander?
Slander occurs when a party makes a false and defamatory statement about another party. . Generally the First Amendment protects the rights to free speech, however slanderous speech is an exception. For speech to be considered slanderous it must have the following:
- Actually occur (whether orally, or in writing)
- Be False (the person who published the statement acted negligently and knew it was false)
- Harm the person’s reputation
- Qualify as defamation under state laws.
Can you sue for slander? The False Statement Must Be Published
The false or defamatory statement has to be published or communicated/heard by a third party. This usually happens in two forms, written defamation (often known as libel) or spoken defamation ( often called slander). For instance, this step is achieved if the third party hears the statement in a loud conversation, sees it online in social media, on TV or in a paper.
Can you sue for slander? The Statement Needs to Be Defamatory or False
The statement made to harm the reputation must be false and not solely an opinion. Opinions are not defamatory because they cannot be proven true or false. The statement on its face must be blatantly false.
Can you sue for slander? The Statement Has to be Harmful
The false statement must actually have harmed you either directly or indirectly.
- You have lost your job, job prospects, job relationships, clients, business etc.
- It has led to damage to your finances
- If has led to harassment by the press
- The press has harassed you
- Your reputation has been harmed
Can you sue for slander? For High Profile People, You Need Actual Malice
Actual malice means that someone is intentionally making the false statements without checking or knowing if it is false or not, or the person is purposefully acting with reckless abandon. We encourage you to review the famous Supreme Court Case NEW YORK TIMES CO. v. SULLIVAN which discusses this higher standard.
Can you sue for slander? Not if there is a ‘Qualified Privilege’
Qualified privilege includes certain relationships/situations where a privilege exists:
- Statements between spouses
- Defamation lawsuit witness testimony
- Public Officials making statements during legislative debates