Elements of Defamation in New Hampshire
Generally, all of the following conditions must be met in order to move forward with a defamation claim.
New Hampshire Defamation Element #1: A False Statement of Fact
The defendant must have made a factual statement that was untrue about the plaintiff.
If the injurious statement was factual and truthful, no defamation claim may be sought. In addition, if the statement is an opinion, it is not considered worthy of a defamation claim.
New Hampshire Defamation Element #2: Publication or Distribution Of a False Statement of Fact
The statement was published by the plaintiff. In other words, the statement must have been made to another person besides you, or it was published online or in a way that others could read or hear the untruth about you. Self-publication also meets the requirement.
When an employer makes a false statement to the employee as a reason for being fired, and the employee must repeat that to prospective employers when asked why he was fired, that constitutes a form of self-publication.
The plaintiff was aware or should have been aware that the statement was not true.
If the defendant has evidence that the stat then there is no valid claim for defamation. If, however, the defendant repeats a statement that he knows to be damaging but does not confirm that the statement is true, the defendant may be liable for a claim of defamation.
New Hampshire Defamation Element #3: Not Much Is Privileged in NH
In many states, statements made between two or more parties are considered privileged statements. As long as the statements were made without malice, they are not accountable as statements of defamation.
New Hampshire does not afford privileged statements as a viable excuse from a defamation claim.
New Hampshire Defamation Element #4: Evidence of Harm
Some statements are considered to be defamatory by virtue of their content, or “per se.” In those cases, the plaintiff is exempt from having to prove that the statement caused harm. In some states, statements that an employee lacks the proper skills for a job or has committed a crime constitutes a defamatory statement per se.
Each state defines defamation with varying rules and requirements. Before making any statements that could be considered defamatory, or initiating a claim for defamation, make sure you thoroughly understand all the regulations.
New Hampshire’s Standout Defamation Rule With Regards To Employers and Employees
One of the unique aspects of New Hampshire’s defamation laws is the state’s view of employer and employee defamation claims. In most states, if an employer, as a job reference, provides information to a prospective employer, the referenced employer cannot be sued for defamation. As long as the information being provided is truthful, the employer is exempt from a defamation suit. However, in New Hampshire, employers are not protected by law from defamation suits. Whether or not the suit is successful depends on its own merits, but a defamation suit may be brought.