Slander is a false and malicious oral statement which defames an individual. To establish a claima of slander, the plaintiff generally must plead and proving special damages.
Since the early common law, certain statements have been deemed so serious that reputational injury to the plaintiff could be presumed, even without proof of any special damages. These are called slander per se.
The four traditional slander per se categories of statements that permit a presumption of reputational damages even absent special damages are:
- allegations of serious criminal misbehavior by the plaintiff
- statements that directly call into question the plaintiff's competence to perform adequately in his or her trade or profession
- statements that the plaintiff has a current, loathsome disease, and,
- statements concerning of a lack of chastity in a woman.