Can I Tell an Employer About an Employee's Criminal History?

Full Question:

Let's say I have a daughter who has a history of criminal activity and drug use. She used to work for her father, a doctor, and used his DEA number to get prescriptions for people who didn't exist, and she stole money routinely for which she was arrested. Now she is in another state working for a group of doctors and I happen to go online and see that she was suspected in a theft incident at the doctors office but wasn't caught. I feel a responsibility to inform the doctors of this persons past, because she really shouldn't be working in a doctors office and the fact that she has been on two occasions suspected of theft informs me that she is up to no good. My question is, can I be sued for giving factual information that I can back up with newspaper accounts and such? And what is the best way to go about letting these physicians know?
05/12/2010   |   Category: Civil Actions ยป Defamation   |   State: Connecticut   |   #22085

Answer:

Statements outside of court falsely and knowingly accusing another of a crime may be considered slander per se ("slander on it's face"). Defamation is an act of communication that causes someone to be shamed, ridiculed, held in contempt, lowered in the estimation of the community, or to lose employment status or earnings or otherwise suffer a damaged reputation. Such defamation is couched in 'defamatory language'.

It may be considered libel per se (on its face) when a false statement implies you committed a crime. Defamation is a difficult wrong to prove, as there are various factors that are to be taken into consideration. The court must evaluate the defendant’s investigation, or lack there of, concerning the accuracy of the statement. How thoroughly the investigation was handled will reflect upon the nature and interest of the person who communicated the statement. Generally, defamation damages will not be awarded if the defendant had an honest but yet mistaken belief in the truth of the statement. The amount of damages that can be awarded is a matter of subjective determination for the court, based on all the facts and circumstances in each case.

Libel and slander are subcategories of defamation. in order to prove defamation, the plaintiff must prove:

1.; that a statement was made about the plaintiffs reputation, honesty or integrity that is not true;
2.; publication to a third party (i.e., another person hears or reads the statement); and
3.; the plaintiff suffers damages as a result of the statement.

Slander is a form of defamation that consists of making false oral statements about a person which would damage that person's reputation. Some statements while libelous or slanderous, are absolutely privileged in the sense that the statements can be made without fear of a lawsuit for slander.; The best example is statements made in a court of law.; An untrue statement made about a person in court which damages that person's reputation will generally not cause liability to the speaker as far as slander is concerned. Case law from various jurisdictions supports the principle that, generally, information released by the police, including reports and records, is considered to be a report of an official action subject to a privilege against a charge of defamation. To prove defamation it must be shown that the person did not have a belief in the statement made, or failed to make a reasonable investigation into its truth.

We are unable to advise you on the best manner of reporting the information, as it is a matter of personal judgment. We suggest contacting your local Alanon group to discuss the matter with parents who are experienced in dealing with addicted family members. Please see:

http://ct-al-anon.org/meetings/meetings.htm