Easy Explanation of Defamation in Nebraska
A negligent, egregious, false statement of fact that harms the reputation of a person, business or group can be deemed a civil wrong under Nebraska defamation law.
Slander v. Libel
Written defamation is libel. Spoken defamation is slander.
What Nebraska Defamation Plaintiffs Must Prove To Win
To prove libel or slander, the plaintiff must show that the defendant knowingly:
- Made a false statement of fact;
- Which caused financial or reputational harm for the plaintiff; and
- Acted either negligently or with actual malice (depending on the circumstances of the case).
Employment References and Defamation
In most states, employers who give bad references are generally protected from defamation lawsuits. Even though references may be harmful to ex-employees, if they truly describe what an employer’s honest opinion, the reference is typically not deemed defamatory.
But Nebraska is different when it comes to defamation and employee referrals. People CAN successfully sue employers for defamation over a reference. If a person can prove falsity in a performance review, plus show that an employer didn’t adequately check facts before dolling out a negative reference, the disparaged employee many be able to win a defamation lawsuit against an employer.
Employment Reference Rules
Nebraska is also one of the few states with a service letter law. Sometimes ex-employers do not want to write reference letters for fear of a defamation suit. Nebraska law, however, demands that in certain sectors, references must be provided if requested and sets out the form in which the letters must appear. The reference defamation provision law applies to public service corporations, the contractors who work for them, and the contractors who work for the state.
Defamation Per Se Parameters
The state also has a “defamation per se” parameter. In other words, in Nebraska defamation lawsuits, the harm requirement is sometimes waived if the plaintiff is accused of something inherently defamatory (i.e., being a criminal).
Nebraska code 25-480, which covers libel and slander, states that in a defamation case, the plaintiff must prove that the written or spoken statement was made with “actual malice” or that reasonable care was not taken by the defamer to find out if the statements were false. As in all 50 states, anyone charged with libel or slander in Nebraska may go to court to seek compensation.