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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37818
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My question is, my previous employer recently referenced details

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My question is, my previous employer recently referenced details of my Separation Agreement and Release from them to my new employer. The context was in a letter to my new employer stating they were concerned with recent marketing pieces being done that were similar to theirs. They felt knowing that I had access to these pieces with them, that we now were somehow violating a copyriight law. It was a complete false claim and with the proper documentation, we showed them that these pieces were much more industry standard then anything that would be exclusive to them. But, in this process, they eluded to details of my separation agreement that were very confidential. I had chosen to not share with my new employer any details of the separation agreement or really any history of my previous employer. These details brought about many questions from my new employer as to what that history was. Is there any laws broken by my previous employer in being so foolish as to bring up these private details? I work in California, so it would those laws that would apply.

Sorry for the delay, but I was having a computer glitch.

If your severance states that the terms and conditions of the severance are confidential, and the former employer discloses those terms, and you are damaged by the disclosure (e.g., demotion, termination, etc.), then you would have a claim for breach of contract, and for the value of the damages, including lost wages until you find new employment.

In addition, you could have a common law claim for interference with contract, or defamation of character, each of which would give you damages in a similar fashion to that of the breach of the severance contract. The difference would be that if your severance contract has a prevailing party attorney's fees clause, then you would be entitled to attorney's fees, which would not be available under a common law claim.

There is also Labor Code 1050 under which an employer cannot, by misrepresentation, prevent a former employee from obtaining employment. Labor Code 1054 permits an aggrieved former employee the right to sue for "treble damages" for the violation of Labor Code 1054 (i.e., three times actual damages).

So, you have a number of options here -- and I encourage you to seek an employment rights lawyer in your area, because you may have a very valuable claim -- depending upon what your current employer decides to do concerning your employment status.

For a competent attorney referral, see this link.

Hope this helps.
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