Court of Appeal Applies Anti-SLAPP Law to EDD Report

Dible worked for the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic as a counselor. The clinic terminated her employment for performance reasons. The clinic contested her unemployment claim. Ms. Dible sued for defamation and other claims. However, after some litigation, the clinic moved the court under the anti-SLAPP statute to dismiss the claim. Why? Because the clinic exercised its First Amendment rights to make a report in an official proceeding. The Court of Appeal agreed that the anti-SLAPP statute barred her claim. Dible then argued that she should be able to assert a claim for "defamation by compelled self-publication," because the clinic should have known Dible would have to re-publish to third parties the clinic's assertions regarding her performance.

The Court of Appeal disagreed:

Here we are clearly being asked to create a wider exception for claimants who have not republished where it is foreseeable that they might do so in the future. We decline to do so. Such a rule would require courts to engage in considerable speculation as to future conduct and lead to untenable attempts to speculate on future damage. A court could not, for instance, account for the possibility that after a plaintiff has received an award for damages in the form of lost future wages, he or she might republish while seeking a job and be given the job, thus not be damaged, nonetheless.

Since publication or republication to a third person is necessary to establish the cause of action of defamation, we conclude that plaintiff cannot establish a probability of success upon her defamation claim. The motion pursuant to section 425.16 was therefore properly granted.

The case is Dible v. Haight Ashbury Free Clinic and the opinion is here.