Oftentimes, victims of discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination are "bad-mouthed" or "blacklisted" by their employers or supervisors after the employment relationship has ended. Such defamatory acts may be challenged in court under the doctrines of libel (written) and slander (oral statements). Libel and slander are legal claims for false statements of fact about a person that are printed, broadcast, spoken or otherwise communicated to others. Libel generally refers to statements or visual depictions in written or other permanent form, while slander refers to oral statements and gestures. The term defamation is often used to encompass both libel and slander. In order for the person about whom a statement is made to recover for libel, the false statement must be defamatory, meaning that it actually harms the reputation of the other person, as opposed to being merely insulting or offensive.
The statement(s) alleged to be defamatory must have been published to at least one other person (other than the subject of the statement) and must be "of and concerning" the plaintiff. That is, those hearing or reading the statement must identify it specifically with the plaintiff. The statement(s) alleged to be defamatory must also be a false statement of fact. Since name-calling, hyperbole, or exaggerated and heated words cannot be proven true or false, they cannot be the subject of a libel or slander claim.