References From Previous Employers
Is My Former Employer Limited in What They Say in My Job Reference?
It is not uncommon when applying for a new job that your new employer may contact your former employer for a reference. Depending on the circumstances under which you left your former job, this is not necessarily a good thing. You may be afraid of what your former employer may say about you and how it will impact on your potential for getting this new job.
Fortunately you have some protections for what your former employer may say about you in a reference to a prospective new employer. For one thing, your new employer may not ask for personal information about you that is not job-related, and your former employer may not give any of that same information. Personal information can include anything about race, religion, ethnic origin, age, disability status, marital status, sexual orientation, or parenting responsibilities.
A former employer also cannot lie or make defamatory statements about you in order to deter your current employer from giving you the job. That means that all the information given by the former employer should not only be job-related, it must also accurately represent your work for the former employer.
What Can a Former Employer Legally Put on My Job Reference that Could be Potentially Damaging to My Chances of Getting the New Job?
Your former employer is allowed to put any truthful information about your work performance at your previous job, whether it is positive or negative. Your former employer can also refuse to answer any questions asked by your new employer on the job reference form. This can be damaging when compared with a reference by another job candidate in which the former employer gave positive answers to those questions neglected by your former employer.
One of the most important things is that however a former employer chooses to answer your job reference, it must be in accordance with a fairly uniform policy used with all other former employee job references. An employer should only refuse to answer certain questions related to an employee recommendation if the employer never answers those same questions on any job recommendation form.
What Should I Do If I Feel My Former Employer Has Cost Me a New Potential Job by Answering a Job Reference Form in an Unfair Manner?
You may want to contact an employment law attorney. Your attorney can advise you of your rights and let you know if you may be entitled to collect compensation in a lawsuit against your former employer.
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Last Modified: 02-19-2013 03:58 PM PST