Slander, along with libel, are forms of defamation and can lead to various effects on both the victim and the person who initiates the defamation act. By definition, slander is something that is spoken that may cause harm to an individual, business, organization or a group of people. These words are spoken with the intent to damage reputations, cause financial loss or incite hatred toward the victim.
The victim of a slanderous statement can find himself being ridiculed by peers, threatened by members of the community or even suffering financial loss. Financial loss can occur when a slanderous comment causes the victim to lose or not be able to get a job. If the victim owns a business, such comments could also cause a loss of customers and eventually put financial stress on the business.
A slanderous statement is one that gives specifics about one person’s character and morals. Slanderous statements include accusations of criminal action, the use poor-quality materials or adultery, as well as unfounded, negative statements about a business or telling everyone that a person has a contagious disease. For example, you are not a victim of a slanderous statement if Jon Doe simply says you are a slow worker and have troubles meeting a deadline. Slander would be an issue if Jane Smith says you missed your deadline because she saw you sleeping on the job. This statement is considered slander only if you were not sleeping on the job.
The victim of slander can file a civil suit against the person who has said negative things about him or his business. To file a civil suit and possibly win, you must be able to prove someone said these things and how it has affected you. Proof may include statements from witnesses, financial records from your business or threats sent to you from members of the community. All evidence must show proof that the person made the statement without researching its validity or while knowing it was false.
Public officials, such as politicians, have a higher burden placed upon them when proving a statement was made with slanderous intentions. The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects freedom of speech, making it possible to make statements about politicians with or without actual malice. However, a civil suit can be filed, and the public figure must be able to prove that the false statement was intentionally made with intent to harm. Evidence must show that the accuser made the statement knowing it was false or did not conduct enough research to prove it was true.