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

UPDATED: Aug 18, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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