My mother, an insurance agent who owns her own business, is dealing with an issue between 2 employees, Jules and Ann. Jules wrote an email to my mother to make a complaint. This email called Ann a “Nazi” and there were other phrases in the letter that completely tore apart Ann, who is the office manager. The problem is, Jules sent this email to other employees in the office. My first question is, does Ann have any legal right to sue Jules for defemation of character and the second is, was sending this email to my mom’s employees in the office enough grounds for my mother to fire Jules?




Dear Slandered???:

Our site does not provide legal advice, but suggests that such questions should be brought to a local attorney to learn if there is a sufficient case. Usually, for defamation to prove beneficial to the person suing one must show monetary harm. In this case, Ann’s language probably hurts her self more than it does Jules, the office manager. My recommendation is that your mother, rather than firing Ann, sees this as an opportunity for counseling and learning what provokes such an e-mail. And depending on Ann’s demeanor and willingness to treat conflict civilly and constructively, that she schedules a face-to-face session or two conducted by your mother or someone she appoints as a facilitator. Such a session should entail an apology for hateful language and problem solving regarding how assignments are made and accepted. Saving face is important to both Ann and Jules. That can happen when and if each commits to working together constructively and cooperatively. The mindset that your mother should promote is what I call WEGO-mindedness. Do let me know if this makes sense and how it all works out. That way we learn from each other.

William Gorden