What can be done about a previous employor who is using language that would prevent a prospective employer from hiring me?

UPDATED: Jan 20, 2012

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What can be done about a previous employor who is using language that would prevent a prospective employer from hiring me?

Asked on January 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The only thing a former employer can't do is defame you. Defamation is the public making--and for this purpose, "public" includes to any third parties, like prospective employers--of untrue factual statements about you which damage your reputation and/or make others not want to work with you.

Opinions are not defamation, so it is not illegal for a former employer to say anything like, "I think John/Jane Doe is lazy" or "rude" or "has a bad attitude" or is "sloppy," etc., since those are opinions.

Also true facts are not defamation; so, for example, if you were in fact excessively absent, the former employer could say that.

But if the former employer is stating untrue facts about you--for example, accusing you of theft, drug use, or excessive absenteeism, when that was not true--then that may be defamation. If it is, you could sue for both monetary compensation and for a court order directing the former employer to stop doing that.

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