Employment Alert: First Circuit Case Provides Cautionary Tale Regarding Potential Libel Claims


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit recently issued a decision holding that, under Massachusetts law, negative statements about an employee can be libelous even if true.

In Noonan v. Staples, Inc., Staples conducted an investigation which led it to believe that the plaintiff, a sales director who frequently traveled for the company, had deliberately falsified his expenses. As a result, Staples fired the plaintiff for cause. After the termination, a Staples executive vice president sent an e-mail to approximately 1,500 employees stating the plaintiff was fired because an investigation had revealed that he had not complied with company travel and expense policies and reminding all employees of the need to comply with these policies.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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