Can a former employer state if a person was fired or can they only give position, time period, and salary?

Asked on October 12, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, a former employer is free to state anything it likes about its current or former employees' employment--and their termination--except to the extent that there is some contract or agreement (e.g. a severance agreement) restricting what they can say. Otherwise, they can state why a person was fired. Most will not: that's because if they make a factual assertion that is untrue--or even simply unprovable--they could find themselves liable for defamation. For example: say the company believes that employee X falsified expenses reports and fired him for that reason. They are allowed to fire him on a mere suspicion; but if they tell someone else that's why he was fired but can't back it up adequately, they may have defamed him.

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