Can an ex-employer discuss my filing for unemployment with former co-workers?

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Can an ex-employer discuss my filing for unemployment with former co-workers?

I was recently laid off from my job due to financial cut backs from low sales. After a month or so of being unable to find a new employer, I made the decision to file for unemployment. A week or two after filing I heard from a friend/ex co-worker that my ex manager was discussing my unemployment status and ridiculing me with other co-workers. I found this to be very embarrassing as many of my friends currently work for my ex employer. My main question is: Can he do this? If not, what can I do to correct this situation?

Asked on August 18, 2011 Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) There is no law saying that an ex-employer cannot discuss whether an employee applied for unemployment compensation or not. This is not the sort of "private" information that people have an enforceable privacy right in--after all, a number of people at both your employer and the UI office/department of labor, and any random person in the UI office if you go in in person, will know about your filing.

2) As long as the ex-employer either only reports true facts or opinions, there is no defamation. So if the emloyer says, "John/Jane Doe is filing for unemployment," or "I think there's something wrong with someone who can't immediately get a new job," there is no actionable defamation--the former is a true factual statement, the latter is an opinion.

However, if a false negative factual assertion is made about you, that could lead to a cause of action. So if the employer says, "John/Jane Doe has to file for unemployment because (s)he's an alcoholic and can't hold a job," that's (assming you're not an alcohalic) defamation.


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