Defamation cases are very difficult in the employment context. In Texas, the employer is protected by what is referred to as a "qualified privilege." The qualified privilege means the alleged victim of the statement must show the speaker acted with actual malice. Actual malice means the speaker knew or should have known the statement was false when it was uttered and the statement caused harm. See my prior post on defamation in Texas. The only way to establish what a speaker was thinking would be for the speaker to reveal his/her thoughts to someone who will testify. Such evidence is hard to come by.
The San Antonio nurse, Tammy Perez, who sued her former employer lost her trial. See San Antonio Express News report. She had filed suit against the Santa Rosa hospital, a hospital affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The hospital denied any defamatory remarks and said she was fired because she breached patient confidentiality.
It appears that the alleged defamatory remarks included references by management to Nurse Perez as "religious girl" and "holier than thou." At trial, the hospital defended the remarks saying they were probably true and that she chose to live her life that way. Ms. Perez had objected to a procedure at the hospital regarding a miscarried baby. Nurse Perez believed the hospital had performed an abortion. She reported hr concerns to the Roman Catholic church and was later fired.
It appears to me that the plaintiff had pretty good evidence that a high-ranking priest lied about when or whether the nurse revealed confidential information about the patient. But, the jury apparently disregarded that evidence. They only took two hours to find in favor of the hospital. As I have explained to many clients, the easiest tack for any jury is to just say "no." If they say no, they can complete their jury duties very quickly. A plaintiff has to have a good case to compel them, to go through the hours and hours of deliberation required to reach a "yes." The truth is many jurors just want to get back to their normal lives at the end of a two week trial.