Is it illegal to inform people The reason I was laid off?

Ive spent years building relationships
with customers, so it comes to no
shock when I was laid off they started
asking about me. The employees were
informing them I was fired, which I
corrected them and informed them I
was laid off due to a money crisis. Is
that illegal? My ex employer called me
telling me it was illegal. So here I am.

Asked on October 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not illegal to tell people why you were laid off, unless you signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement requiring you to keep this confidential. In the absence of an agreement, so long as you tell the truth (see below) you can tell anyone you want.
Defamation is lying about a person or business--making a factually untrue statement which damages their reputation; it is something that someone may sue over. Saying you were laid off is a factual statement, as is saying the lay off was due to a "money crises." If either statement is untrue--or, as a practical matter, whether or not it is true, you cannot at need *prove* it is true--you could be sued. Stick to sayingly only what you know is provably true and you should be fine.
Defamation cuts both ways: your former employer cannot make an untrue factual statement about you which damages your reputation. If they tell people you were fired for doing something wrong when you were not, you could sue them for defamation.


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