What are my rights if my employer knowingly divulged my letter of reprimand?

About 2 months ago my boss wrote both myself and my co-worker a letter of reprimand. He then provided us with copies of the reprimand and at the bottom he also noted that he had CC’d the letter to another third party agency. Soon after he retired. So I applied for his position and was given an interview. When I arrived at the interview they had a panel of three people, and one of them happens to be the person that directly received the copy of my reprimand. Long story short I did not get the job. What are my actual damages under the employee right to know act?

Asked on November 9, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From what  you write, you appear to most likely not actually have any recourse. Unless there was some written agreement or obligation to keep the contents of the reprimand confidential, there is no generally liability for disclosing it. This is particularly so since, based on what you write, you were applying for your boss's old position--i.e. you were applying at your own company or agency, which means that they would have access to yourr personnel file, etc. It is almost impossible to perceive that there is a right to have a reprimand somehow excluded from a hiring or promotion decision made at the company or agency that had reprimanded you.

Furthermore, it is very difficult to win recovery for not getting a job, since it is difficult to prove that you would have gotten it but for the action complained of--i.e. it is difficult to prove causality in a case like this, that the reprimand letter was the proximate cause of not receiving the job.

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