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No defamation claim from job records

An employer did not defame a nurse supervisor when it noted in her employment records that she had been terminated for misconduct related to her reports that she had been cursed at by someone she supervised on a healthcare call-in line.

The nurse supervisor, Shirley Shaheen, appealed dismissal of her defamation claim to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. On Aug. 3, that court upheld dismissal of the suit in a 14-page unpublished opinion.

Shaheen’s employer, WellPoint Companies, claimed a qualified privilege for its statements about Shaheen’s employment records, but Shaheen said WellPoint lost the privilege through its malicious actions.

In its per curiam opinion, the appellate panel said WellPoint investigated the workplace conflict and Shaheen failed to raise a genuine issue of malice.

By Deborah Elkins

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