Is it legal for a potential employer to ask a job candidate’s former employer the reason the candidate was fired?

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Is it legal for a potential employer to ask a job candidate’s former employer the reason the candidate was fired?

Asked on February 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Rhode Island

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It is absolutely legal--there is no law preventing a prospective employer from asking about the reason a job candidate was fired, or about whether (s)he had problems at work, or what kind of an employee (s)he was, etc.

If you had some sort of confidentiality or nondisparagement agreement or clause with the former employer, such as might be found in an SRA (separation and release agreement), the former employer might not be able to answer the question; but that still wouldn't stop the  potential employer from asking.


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