What is my former employer allowed to say about me?

On Behalf of | Oct 13, 2023 | Employment Law

Unfortunately, many separations of employment occur under less-than-optimal circumstances. When that happens, employees moving on to other companies may worry about what their former managers or supervisors may legally say about them to new or prospective employers.

Below is some information that deals with what is legal and forbidden for former bosses to say about their workers.

They must be truthful

Under California Code, Labor Code – LAB § 1053, “upon special request,” former employers can make truthful statements regarding the former worker’s separation of employment. They can also state whether the worker is eligible for rehire.

But note the words in quotation marks — “upon special request.” That means that your former boss, unsolicited, cannot inform your present or prospective employer of any adverse circumstances surrounding your employment or dismissal. Doing so could very well open that company and individual to civil sanctions or penalties if the maligned worker can prove their case in court.

What else can’t they say?

Suppose you worked as a cashier at a grocery store and were terminated because you were late too many times to your daily shifts because your kids kept getting sick and you struggled to find reliable childcare. Your boss is within their rights to say that you were fired due to excessive tardiness, but they cannot add anything like, “and they have six kids and no other parent to watch them when a child gets sick.”

What are your options?

If you know or suspect that a former employer is illegally blocking your opportunities to find gainful employment in your chosen field, learning more about California labor laws can help you decide which path to take to address this wrong.


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