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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Vague Reference to Negative Information in Personal Letter

    My question involves defamation in the state of: MI

    I recently was interviewed and offered a position with a contract employer with one of their clients, a large company. After receiving the offer, I did a background check on the contract labor company, to find that their owner had been convicted of tax fraud. I then respectfully declined the offer when they could not satisfy my concerns.

    Out of courtesy, I wanted to explain via an e-mail letter to the client hiring manager why I turned down the offer, and referred to "information which greatly concerned me" about the owner of the contract company. I did not make mention of what it was, but the information is easily publicly available online. I made no other mention of it except what you see in quotes. I continued by stating that my intent was not to disparage the company or its owner, and that they had been professional in every way, and that I wished the contract company success and good will. I should also mention that I stated that I did not intend for this to be a solicitation to be hired directly, a common concern for these companies. The tone of the letter was professional, matter-of-fact, polite.

    Doing a Google search on the person's name turns up pages and pages of government documents describing his guilty plea and upcoming sentencing date, so I truly would be afraid to work for this private company - I simply stated the truth, that I would be concerned. Although my motivation was really to provide an explanation to the manager, and my intent was not malicious, have I just set myself up for a libel case?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    16,307

    Default Re: Vague Reference to Negative Information in Personal Letter

    Although my motivation was really to provide an explanation to the manager, and my intent was not malicious, have I just set myself up for a libel case?
    No, for two reasons:

    1) You didn't say anything. All you said was you were concerned. That's it. "Sorry, this makes me nervous" is not libelous.

    2) Even if you HAD been specific, the truth is an absolute defense to a charge of libel.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Vague Reference to Negative Information in Personal Letter

    Thanks for the response, it definitely helps me relax a little.

    Having been busy thinking of other possible horrible outcomes, in the event that the letter makes it back to the contract company, am I at risk of being sued for tortious intereference or other tort? My intent, again, was to give an explanation to the manager for my possibly mysterious (from his perspective) declining of the offer. I can't imagine that my little note would cause the company to stop using their services, but strange things happen. Should I sign up for an umbrella policy for my homeowner's insurance just to be safe?

    Being right is still costly if one is sued; of course, just less costly than being wrong. I will probably be more shy about writing letters to companies like this in the future.

    Thanks again.

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