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California Employees Defamation Blog

Defenses to Defamation

California law recognizes a number of defenses to defamation claims. Some of the most major defenses to defamation are:

Truth: proof that a defamatory statement is true is a complete defense because falsity is an essential element of both slander and libel.

The alleged defamatory statement was merely a statement of opinion not fact: only false statements of fact or opinions that insinuate that they are based on undisclosed defamatory facts are actionable.

Retraction: in cases involving publication of a libel in a newspaper or of a slander by radio broadcast, if a defamer retracts the allegedly defamatory statement that often will serve as a defense to any defamation lawsuit, especially if the defamer also apologizes.

Lack of publication: lack of publication is a complete defense because publication is an essential element of both slander and libel. To prove the element of publication, the defendant must have uttered or distributed the defamatory statement to east least one person other than the plaintiff.

Privilege: California law recognizes two types of privileges, the absolute privilege and the conditional privilege, both of which may immunize an employer from liability if he or she can show that certain criteria are met.

Of these defenses, perhaps one of the most frequently argued by employers is the privilege defense. Future posts will discuss this defense in more detail and the distinction between the absolute privilege and the conditional privilege.

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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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