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What Can A California Employer Say In A Job Reference Of A Former Employee?


The California Labor Code prohibits employers from making exaggerated or false statements about their former employees when giving a job reference. It is important to understand what an employer in California can and cannot say about a former employee when giving a job reference.

When applying for a new job, you may be worried about what your former employer might say about you to a prospective employer, especially if you did not leave that job on good terms. Under California law, employers have a right to provide truthful information about the reason for the termination of their former employees’ employment.

Communications between your former and prospective employer may be considered a privilege, which means some of the things disclosed during that communication cannot be used as evidence in a potential lawsuit against an employer.

If your employer gave you a bad reference or if you are an employer who does not understand their legal rights when it comes to giving negative references for former employees, consult with a Los Angeles employment lawyer.

What Can Employers Say When Communicating With a Prospective Employer?

When communicating with a former employee’s prospective employer, employers usually stick to the facts by providing the following information:

  • The date of the former employee’s employment
  • The employee’s job title
  • Whether or not they would rehire the worker

Employers typically choose to limit the contents of their communications with former employees’ prospective employers to avoid legal problems. California law gives employees the right to sue their former employers if the latter provides false or unsolicited information to the employee’s prospective employers to prevent them from being hired.

If you believe that your former employer said untruthful things about you to your prospective employer when providing a job reference or communicating with the employer, you should consult with a skilled attorney to determine whether or not you can sue your former employer for the damages you experienced as a result of not being hired.

In fact, an employer may be breaking the law by providing unsolicited information about a former employee. Thus, if your former employer gave information to your potential employer when such information was not requested, you might have evidence to prove that the information was given with the intent to prevent you from getting the new job.

When Statements Are Not Protected by the Privilege

As mentioned earlier, communication between former and prospective employers is usually protected by the common-interest privilege. However, not all statements are protected by the privilege.

A former employer cannot enjoy the protection of the privilege for any of the following statements about a former employee:

  • Untruthful or reckless statements. Employers who intentionally provide false or reckless statements about former employees to prevent them from being hired by prospective employers can be sued.
  • Malicious statements. Similarly, California law prohibits employers from making malicious statements about former employees.
  • Unsolicited information. If an employer contacts a former employee’s prospective employer without being requested to do so, or provides any unsolicited information about a former employee, the former employee may sue them for the resulting damages if the employee does not get hired.
  • Statements about protected activities. If your former employer makes statements about activities you undertook that are protected by the U.S. Constitution, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages.

If you are considering suing your former employer for making any of the above-mentioned statements to your new or prospective employer, you need a skilled lawyer to help you justify a lawsuit against the employer.

Contact our employment lawyer at Litigation, P.C., to discuss your case today.

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