Appeals court awards former bank exec $17M over defamation claim

The California Court of Appeals, Third District, ruled in July that a former regional president for U.S. Bank in Sacramento is entitled to receive $17 million in compensation after a jury determined he was wrongfully terminated, and that U.S. Bank National Association later defamed his reputation.

The jury found that U.S. Bank falsely accused Timothy King of gender discrimination against employees. They also rejected the company’s accusations that King forced workers to fabricate reports. Jurors concluded it was part of a scheme to fire him to avoid paying a bonus.

Defamation in the workplace

Defamation is making written or spoken false statements about a person, group or organization. If you are fired or disciplined based on co-workers’, managers’ or supervisors’ erroneous statements, you may be eligible to file a defamation lawsuit. Examples include:

  • Untrue comments that make a person appear incompetent
  • Spreading malicious lies
  • Wrongly accusing someone of stealing money from the company

How do you prove defamation?

Defamation consists of both slander and libel under California statutes. The elements to prove a defamation claim include the publication of a statement:

  • That is false
  • Unprivileged, meaning the defendant has no immunity from being sued
  • That has a natural tendency to injure or causes “special harm”
  • Where the defendant’s fault is intentional or the result of negligence

Holding employers accountable

An experienced California defamation lawyer will fight to protect workers’ rights and reputation. If your employment has been adversely affected by defamation, you may be entitled to receive punitive damages which punish employers, compensation for pain and suffering, court costs and attorneys’ fees.

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