What can I do about a bad reference given by my former employer that has now cost me a new job?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What can I do about a bad reference given by my former employer that has now cost me a new job?

I was employed for about 2 weeks at a retail company dealing with mobile contracts, I was offered a rep job by a company dealing with printers. The mobile company gave me a bad reference saying I was always late and had no interest in working for them and also that I was doing private deals during company time, all of which is not true. The printer company has terminated my employment because of this, what can I do to clear my name and get my job back?

Asked on July 30, 2015 under Personal Injury, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

A previous employer may disclose any information about your past performance as long as the information is true, even though it may be negative. Your previous employer cannot, however, make statements that are false or defamatory. If this happens, you may be able to file a lawsuit for defamation of character.

The law prohibits employers from defaming an employee to a prospective employer. In such as case, defamation is an injury to a person’s reputation or career as a result of the employer making false statements of fact about them (note: these statements do not include the employer’s opinion).

However, if an employer exaggerates an employee's poor work performance or tells prospective employers false, unproven facts about their performance, this would probably be defamatory.

Under the facts that you presented, your employer's action may well have been defamatory. Proof can be an issue but you really shoud consult directly with an employment law attorney; they can best advise you further.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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