As a small business owner here in Austin, there may come a point where you find yourself the subject of a baseless harassment campaign. Perhaps you had a particularly acrimonious parting with a now-disgruntled former employee who started bad-mouthing you to all and sundry.
Alternatively, a dispute with a customer may have taken a wrong turn, causing him or her to defame your good name and the stellar reputation of your business. If something similar occurred with you, it's vital that you understand that there are legal remedies available to you.
What is a cease and desist order?
One of those potential remedies is a cease and desist order. This legal document is issued to the offending person, or in some instances, group of people. It may be signed by a judge and orders them to immediately stop libeling, slandering or otherwise defaming or harassing the petitioner (you and/or your business).
If the harassers continue with this course of action, the cease and desist order spells out the specific penalties they will face for failing to adhere to it.
Sometimes, having your attorney draft a cease and desist letter to your harasser may be just as effective, and will likely be a great deal cheaper than filing the order itself. A cease and desist letter on attorney letterhead will typically have the requisite gravitas to make a disgruntled former employee or dissatisfied customer stop their harassment and defamation.
The cease and desist letter differs from the order in that it lacks the "teeth" that an order from the court has. In the letter, your attorney will detail the specific consequences the recipient will face for continuing with the offensive behavior(s). It will then be up to the aggrieved business owner — you — to take the necessary legal steps to ensure that there are consequences for failing to halt these scurrilous attacks.
When the order is already filed with the court and signed by a judge, it can be used as a temporary injunction wherein the court orders the suspension of the offensive activity by the subject of the order. Pending a determination by a Texas court, a temporary injunction can be made permanent.
Should you get a letter or an order?
You may find that having your attorney send the cease and desist letter to the individual in question is quite effective and ends the matter once and for all. Therefore, this may be the most practical solution that you can try. Should it fail to alleviate the problem, you can always have your attorney draft and file the cease and desist order with the court.
Don't allow your hard-won success as the owner of a thriving business be diminished by harmful and slanderous words or libelous statements. Fight back with a cease and desist letter or order and end the harassment today.