Can an employer refuse to give a job reference for a former employer?

I was recently laid off (my position was dissolved). I am trying to get employment with the school system and they require several references from my former job. However my former employer has a policy of not giving references. Can they do this? Almost every job I am applying for requires references, how am I supposed to get work if my former employees does not provide references?

Asked on October 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There is, unfortunately, NO legal obligation to give a job reference--the law simply does not, and will not, force an employer to speak to anyone about a former employee, provide any sort of a reference, etc.

You can obviously tell your prospective employer that your former employee will not give out any references. You can provide proof of your employement by showing pay stubs, W-2s, etc. If you have any written performance reviews, emails from your former employer to you about how you're doing at your job, etc., you may share them with the prospective employer, at least as long as you didn't sign any agreement which states you would not share such information. But you can't make the former employer provide references.

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