Is it legal to prevent me from getting a job?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal to prevent me from getting a job?

I was hired offered a great wage and signing
bonus at a new plumbing job during a
interview on a Wednesday.I started work on a
Thursday and continued to work on Friday.
Friday night my new employer calls me and
informs me that he received a damaging
referral from my previous plumbing employer of
11 years. When my new boss asked if my
employment was recommended in the same
exact plumbing field, the new employer was
told that I am unemployable and had nothing
more to say. When the old employer was asked
for a second time if I was recommended for the
plumbing position he was told once again that I
am unemployable with no explanation as to
why this was the case. This led to the
termination of my employment because I was
now a risk to my new employer which is very
understandable. The negative referral appears
to have been done in retaliation and was
definitely a negative misstatement. I have no
way of knowing how many times this reference
has been given to other potential employers.
This has caused a massive financial burden to
my household. We have been on government
assistance and behind on all bills since I was
terminated from my old employer. Meanwhile I
have been looking for work consistently while
on unemployed with no luck until now. But
unfortunately Im unemployed again.

Asked on October 7, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is legal for a former employer to express an opinion--that is, a subjective or value judgment, such as that you are "unemployable": the law allows everyone to have and express an opinion, even if it is harmful to or has negative effects on others. His motivation in doing so is irrelevant; all that matters is that his statement constituted an opinion, not a false factual assertion. If he makes any provably false factual assertions, such as that you stole, were excessively absent, used drugs, etc. when you did not, then you could sue him for defamation. The key is, defamation is only something that is a fact, not a value judgment, opinion, or subjective.

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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