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Defamation of Character: Per Quod vs. Per Se

By Dan Atkerson on June 05, 2015

Defamation of character is a problem that employees can face in the workplace, or even when searching for a job. Defamation is split into two categories: slander, false statements that are spoken; and libel, false statements that are printed.

Cases involving defamation of character, whether printed or spoken, often require proof that the defamatory language used against you was false as well as proof that you suffered harm as a result. Defamation can harm you in a variety of ways; you could lose your job, or be evicted from your home, or lose work clients, etc. This kind of defamation is known as defamation per quod.

There is another type of defamation that does not require proof of harm, only that the defamatory statement was false. This is known as defamation per se. In these cases, the false statement alone is severe enough to produce harm that is obvious to anyone without the need for proof.

Defamation per se laws vary by state, but in Texas, the law presumes that the following statements are defamatory per se:

  1. statements that unambiguously charge a crime, dishonesty, fraud, rascality, or general depravity
  2. statements that are falsehoods that injure one in his office, business, profession, or occupation.
Defamation of character has become more and more common with the advent of online social media. If you believe that you have suffered defamation on a professional level, speak to an employment law attorney to determine whether you might be entitled to damages, including damages for loss of reputation or mental anguish.

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