What can I do about a former employee harrassing/defaming us on-line?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2010

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

What can I do about a former employee harrassing/defaming us on-line?

I am a director at a childcare center. Yesterday, an employee was fired for gossiping with some of the parents about the center. She has been written up on a few occasions for similar behavior and it is all documented. Knowing her personality, I looked at our on-line reviews this morning and sure enough, there are some new negative reviews that I would only be able to describe as defamation. She doesn’t use her name and the names she uses are not names of anyone at our center. If we get the reviews taken down, she will probably just write more. Can we legally do anything?

Asked on October 2, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If you can prove that this person wrote the reviews, and IF they meet the requirements for defamation, you can sue her for defamation, for monetary damages and/or a court order barring her from futher defamation. Defamation is the public (even to one other person, so online reviews would count) making a false statement of fact that puts someone in a negative light and damages  their reputation. It is necessary for the statement to be defamation that it be a false statement of fact; opinions are not defamation. So saying "Jane Doe Childcare employees pedophiles" or "Jane Doe Childcare does not maintain good hygene" could be defamation, since those are factual assertions. Saying "Jane Doe Childcare is the worst daycare center I've ever seen" is not defamation, since that is an opinion.

If you do not "know" that the person wrote these reviews but suspect them, it may be possible to institute a legal action and use some of the mechanisms of lawsuits, such as "discovery," to prove its her. This can be difficult with online postings, however. You should speak with an attorney with experience in Internet defamation to discuss your options.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption