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I suspect a past employer is trashing my name when a potentially new employer calls to confirm my employment.?
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I suspect a past employer is trashing my name when a potentially new employer calls to confirm my employment.?

I also suspect it may have cost me a job offer although I can not prove this. Can I sue or threaten a law suit? Should I have a friend call and see what is being said?


This is a very common problem and not easy to solve. First, the law covering what a previous employer can say is controlled by the state where the business is. The majority of states still follow the rule that an employer can say a person did work there, dates worked, title, and in some states salaryor salary range.

However, there are some states like Illinois that let a previous employer say whatever they want "as long as the employer believes it is true". The majority of large corporations with stores/offices in many states will follow the most restrictive law as a company policy.

Second, in order to sue the previous employer you would need to have a potential employer testify as witness in a civil case that if it were not for this reference you would have been hired. The vast majority of employers do not want to be a witness for a person that they did not want to hire. It is a quick step from suing a former employer for what he/she said, to suing the potential employer for not hiring you due to discrimination.

Yes, you could have a friend call, but you cannot use that in court. Why? First this is a friend, second you need to prove that you lost money by the previous employer's comments and the only way you can do that is to have a potential employer testify that they did not hire you due to the comments.

What you can do is to NOT give a direct phone number to the supervisor that you suspect is providing the bad reference. I always suggest that people put the direct phone number of the Human Resources department on all applications, even if HR is out of state. You may be able to omit the actual name of a supervisor if you worked for serveral people -- put in the word 'various' when asked for the supervisor's name.

Another way to deal with this is to get written references from those you worked with, maybe another supervisor at the same company, or someone who saw your work. You give a copy of this reference to the potential employer. When the potential employer asks about the previous employer you honestly say that there was a personality conflict and that someone is trying to keep you from work BUT here are statements from my former bosses that will show I was a good employee.

I have had several clients obtain jobs by just being honest about a former boss who had a grudge against the employee. It requires that you somehow furnish the potential employer references as to the quality of your work. Good luck.

sure, you can have someone call and pretend to be a potential employer...but be aware of something, the job market is not good - there are many people competing for the same job(s) you are - I highly doubt you are being trashed.

My question to you would be,what he claims is it base on any facts??

I would have someone call and see what is being said, be careful for caller ID

Contact a labor attorney. You may have a case here.

I agree with Malissa, you can't sue unless you have proof. Good luck!

First, ask yourself "is the past employer telling the truth"? In today's world employers are afraid to say anything for fear of your second sentence. Generally, if they don't say anything at all, it's a bigger indictment than if they said anything.

You should have a friend call to see what is said, and if it was bad skip that reference

G. B.
If your former employer is "trashing" your reputation -AND- the "trashing" is undeserved, that is, you weren't the horrible employee that they are claiming.....you have the basis for a law suit. Seek the advice of an Attorney if your past work performance was positive.

All you can do is make sure you create a good impression on whoever you meet when you interview. That's a good idea though: having a friend call, and pretending to be a potential employer to see exactly what's being said.

And if it's substantial, you can sue for slander.

Sean D
Pretend to be another prospecting employer and ask to confirm your employment. And make sure you have a recorder ready on the other end of the line when your past employer is trashing you.

If they are, it is against the law. By law a former employer cannot trash you. They can only give facts like how long you worked there, what you did, why you quit, etc.
If they bad-mouth you, they can be sued for defamation of character.

If you can prove it I would totally because that is one of the big no nos of Human resource.. I can't bad talk a past employee even if she was never there back talked me or another supervisor.... Just make sure that if they are saying bad things make sure that it is an exagerated version of something you have done at work...

allison b
have someone you know call and record it its against the law

Yes, you should definitely investigate. Bottom line is- you have to have proof. I would record the conversation and consult an attorney.

I totally would. And if they are, then that is ILLEGAL. They are only allowed to say from what dates you worked there. You can take them down for slander.

Keep us posted on what happens.

Secret Squirell
They can only call your past employer if you give them permission. The only thing they can say is: How long you worked with them and are you rehirable.

I think it would be pretty hard to find out if your past employer cost you a job offer unless the company that denied you the position tells you that your past employer gave them negative information.

Yes, I would have a friend call to check. Make sure when they call they sound professional and they DO NOT CHANGE THEIR TONE in their voice,, keep it firm and professional!

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