Article I, section 4, of the Florida Constitution embodies Florida’s concern for an individual’s reputation. Florida has singled out defamation per se for special rules in civil tort litigation. There is a presumption that statements defamatory per se are harmful as a matter of law. In defamation per se Florida law presumes malice.
Courts in the United States have concluded that accusations and termination of an employee for false sexual harassment allegations may be defamation per se. As one Court observed:
“The allegations of sexual harassment, if false, amount to defamation per se. One who is rightfully or wrongfully accused of such activities can essentially say good-bye to their career. In either event, they have become damaged goods in the workplace. Where sexual harassment allegations are made against an individual in the workplace, the alleged perpetrator’s reputation is ruined when he is publicly labeled as one who cannot be trusted around women in the workplace. If the label is accurate, so be it. But if it is not, then damages will naturally flow from the defamatory statements.”Shoemaker v. Cmty. Action Org. of Scioto County, Inc., 2007 Ohio App. Lexis 3386 (Ohio Ct. Appeals July 16, 2007).
If you or someone you know has been a victim of an unfair employment practice, please contact the employment lawyers at LaBar & Adams, P.A. at 407-835-8968 or www.labaradams.com.