Bloomberg Law Publishes Ethan Krasnoo’s Article Analyzing Defamation and Covid-19 Transmission Accusations

As businesses begin to reopen, defamation-related questions await both employers and employees. Can a claim for defamation be successfully brought against an employee falsely claiming another employee has contracted Covid-19? How about if an employee falsely alleges that an employer did not take adequate measures to protect its employees from the virus? In his article published yesterday by Bloomberg Law, titled “Sorting Out Defamation and Covid-19 Transmission Accusations,” RPJ Counsel Ethan Krasnoo delves into the complex issues surrounding these questions as he examines the ways in which defamation law may come into play in this new phase of the pandemic.

Mr. Krasnoo’s article begins by establishing the required elements of a successful defamation claim, noting that “[g]enerally, the subject of a publication made orally or in writing can establish a claim for defamation against the author if the publication is a false statement that harms the reputation of or otherwise damages the subject of the statement,” and that although “[t]he statement usually must be more than mere opinion […] an opinion implying a false statement of fact may be actionable.”

In response to a false allegation of an individual testing positive for Covid-19, Mr. Krasnoo notes that “in theory, one can obtain a medical test to disprove the statement.” By the same token, disproving such a claim “could similarly pose challenges if the alleged transmitter has or had Covid-19, given how easily the virus can be transmitted and how challenging it is to prove the method of transmission.” Proving damages will likely be the most challenging aspect of bringing such a claim as “the virus may not be sufficiently stigmatized to cause reputational damages.”  However, Mr. Krasnoo further discusses that damages may be easier for a business to demonstrate in a defamation claim responding to allegations that a business failed to protect employees or customers from contracting Covid-19 – for example by failing to disinfect or refusing employees’ or customers’ requests to wear masks or gloves – if the business can show that it has been damaged financially by the claims.  

To read the full article, please click here.

RPJ Counsel Ethan Krasnoo counsels both companies and individuals on employment, entertainment and media, First Amendment, insurance and data privacy matters. He is admitted to practice in New York State, the U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, and U.S. Tax Court. Attorney Advertising.