Can a former supervisor legally give a bad reference?

When leaving a previous employer, I gave a 2 week notice. However, my supervisor asked for a month notice which I was not able to do as my new job was scheduled to begin in 2 1/2 weeks. I was a regular employee, not at a managerial level. Now several years later, I am seeking new job opportunities. I’ve learned that when prospective employers contact this former supervisor, they are told that I am not eligible for rehire due to inadequate notice I had been previously unaware she was doing this. This of course has cost me several good job opportunities. Can she legally do this and if so, for how long?

Asked on September 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the laws of all states in this country the "negative" references that you are receiving from your former employer could be deemed defamatory if not true. Ordinarily most former employers simply comment upon the length of time, scope of work and pay scale of the former employee and no references are given in order the prevent the issues that you have. As a matter of course I advise my clients not to give any references good or bad with respect to a former employee.

I suggest that you consult a labor law attorney with respect to your matter to see what legal recourse if any you may have against your former employer.

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