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Can employers give bad references about former workers?

Employers would often contact an applicant’s previous place of employment as a common measure in the hiring process. While many people claim that former employers are not allowed to disclose certain details, this is not exactly true. The Balance outlines the scope of what former employers are allowed to disclose when asked about employees, as well as mitigating measures against any potential legal issues.

While laws vary from state to state, it’s not true that employers are restricted to disclose only certain pieces of information. In fact, employers may disclose the fact that the former employee was fired, as well as providing a reason for the firing. They can disclose information about an employee’s performance, including repeated absences and tardiness, or misconduct in general. Additionally, they may also talk about responsibilities at work, specific job titles, and compensation.

While it’s lawful to disclose true and accurate information, many employers are still cautious about providing too much information. This is because they may still be open to a defamation lawsuit if the information they provide is determined to be inaccurate. Lawsuits can be quite expensive, even when an employer feels within his or her rights when it comes to providing references.

Additionally, applicants are not likely to secure new employment if they provide false information regarding their previous employment. If employment ended in a termination, it’s best to disclose that fact in the application. Lying or claiming that it was a lay-off will only backfire I the former employer reveals the truth about what occurred. Additionally, it’s not advisable to lie about or inflate job duties or titles. It is advisable for applicants to ask a former employer for an honest assessment. While it may be difficult to hear, applicants would be able to understand the former employer’s perspective and use that information to create a favorable narrative.

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