Possible defamation of character

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Possible defamation of character

I got laid off by an employer that I worked for 2 years, and he told me it was
‘due to a money crisis’ and even received a letter of recommendation from him. Is
it illegal if he is telling my future employers that he would not hire me back
‘due to company policies’? I have been applying for months at multiple jobs,
even received interviews that went really well, but I never hear from anyone
again. I’ve done nothing wrong in any job I have had, and I always put the
contact number for my last employer on my applications. I have proof that he told
a company he wouldn’t hire me back. It has ruined various different chances at
jobs, and I know that other jobs aren’t giving negative recommendations. What can
be done?

Asked on January 4, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

This is not illegal. Defamation is only a false statement of fact about you, not an opinion or statement of intention. Saying that he would not hire you back "due to company policies" is nothing more than his statement as to what he will do and/or his opinion about whether he's someone he'd want working for you--he is allowed to make those statements, they are not defamation, and you cannot take legal action against him for this.
If he says anything like that you were fired for abseentism or theft or being drunk at work when you not, those would be defamation--those would then be false factual statements. But only false factual statements are defamation.

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