New bill will prevent defamation claims in sexual harassment cases: Sonya Goodwin’s article in Hunton

California’s AB 2770 Protects Employers and Victims of Sexual Harassment from Defamation Claims

By Sonya Goodwin & C. Randolph Sullivan on November 1, 2018

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many state legislatures have begun to take action to provide greater protections for victims of sexual harassment and make it easier for them to make complaints in the workplace.  For example, in California, AB 2770 amends Civil Code Section 47 to protect alleged victims of sexual harassment by a co-worker in making complaints to the employer without the fear of being found liable for defaming the alleged harasser.  It similarly protects employers when making statements to interested parties (such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and/or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) concerning the complaints of sexual harassment.  In both instances, however, the statements and/or complaints are only protected from liability for defamation if they are made without malice and based upon credible evidence.

Under existing law, current or former employers are protected from liability for defamation when making any statement concerning the job performance or qualifications of a person who has applied for employment elsewhere, at the request of a prospective employer or the applicant, as long as those statements are made without malice and based upon credible evidence.  Existing law also allows a current or former employer to answer whether or not it would rehire the applicant without the risk of being held liable for defamation of the applicant.

Read the rest at Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives

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