Is it illegal to inform people The reason I was laid off?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it illegal to inform people The reason I was laid off?

Ive spent years building relationships
with customers, so it comes to no
shock when I was laid off they started
asking about me. The employees were
informing them I was fired, which I
corrected them and informed them I
was laid off due to a money crisis. Is
that illegal? My ex employer called me
telling me it was illegal. So here I am.

Asked on October 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not illegal to tell people why you were laid off, unless you signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement requiring you to keep this confidential. In the absence of an agreement, so long as you tell the truth (see below) you can tell anyone you want.
Defamation is lying about a person or business--making a factually untrue statement which damages their reputation; it is something that someone may sue over. Saying you were laid off is a factual statement, as is saying the lay off was due to a "money crises." If either statement is untrue--or, as a practical matter, whether or not it is true, you cannot at need *prove* it is true--you could be sued. Stick to sayingly only what you know is provably true and you should be fine.
Defamation cuts both ways: your former employer cannot make an untrue factual statement about you which damages your reputation. If they tell people you were fired for doing something wrong when you were not, you could sue them for defamation.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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