Texas Supreme Court deals blow to workers’ who are defamed and black balled by their employers.

The Texas Supreme Court in the case of Lippincott v. Whisenhunt, 462 S.W.3d 507 (Tex. 2015) held that The Texas Citizens Participation Act (TCPA), Tex. Civ. Prac. & Rem. Code Ann. § 27.001–27.011, applied to a nurse anesthetist’s defamation claim against administrators of a medical facility, where the   defamatory communications were in emails sent between the administrators and concerned the nurse anesthetist’s performance of certain contract work at the facility. The TCPA covers defemantion claims where the statements are a matter of “the exercise of free speech.”  The statute broadly defines “the exercise of the right of free speech” as “a communication made in connection with a matter of public concern.” . Under this definition, the right of free speech has two components: (1) the exercise must be made in a communication and (2) the communication must be made in connection with a matter of public concern.  In this case the Court held that email communications concerned a matter of public concern because it involved the work history of the defamed employee.  Does this case end defamation cases by employees against ex-employers who slander them and keep them from obtaining future employment?  If it is not the death of these claims, it certainly is a chill on these claims because under the TCPA the employee has to pay the attorneys’ fees of the ex-employer.  So not only does the ex-employer get to defame you, but you have to pay their attorneys’ fees if you sue them.  Bad day for fired and injured workers’ in Texas. This case will effect many wrongfully terminated employees in the El Paso region.

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