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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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When a new prospective employer contacts a former employer

Customer Question

When a new prospective employer contacts a former employer for a reference check, what information is the former employer allowed to divulge? For example, is the former employer allowed to reveal if the employee was terminated?
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Good afternoon and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will do everything I can to answer your question.

Though it is the policy of some large companies to only confirm dates of employment, employers actually have tremendous freedom with regard to the information they disclose to prospective employers inquiring for a reference. Specifically, Civil Code 47(c) proactively guards an employer's right to make any "communication concerning the job performance or qualifications of an applicant for employment, based upon credible evidence, made without malice . . . .upon request of, one whom the employer reasonably believes is a prospective employer of the applicant." (See here for the actual text of the law: http://law.onecle.com/california/civil/47.html)

Basically, this means that employers can say anything to prospective employers--including whether an employee was fired, whether they were a "good" employee, and any other fact or opinion, with the exception of statements that are knowingly false and told for the purpose of maliciously injuring the employee's chance of hire.

For example, if a former employer was bitter about an employee leaving the company, they could not lie and tell prospective employers that the employee was fired for using cocaine. Aside from outright lies of this nature, though, there are no legal prohibitions on what an employer can say.

Thus, I am afraid that an employee would have no legal recourse if their former employer revealed they were fired or stated any sort of subjective opinion regarding the quality of their work.

Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes and kindest regards.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7011
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

My former employer, Dominos Pizza, was not able to verify my previous


employment due to a "change in ownership". Therefore, will a new prospective employer view this reference as favorable or not?

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 10 months ago.
Thank you for your reply, positive rating and kind bonus.

If you can provide other proof of your employment with Dominos (e.g., a paystub, hire letter, etc.), the fact that Dominos cannot verify your employment due to a change in ownership at your franchise location would not be looked upon disfavorably in your efforts to secure a new job. This is a problem with their company records, not a problem with you.

Just make sure that prospective employers know about this issue and provide them with proof of your employer in any of the above-mentioned forms in advance of this becoming an issue.

Please let me know if I can be of any further assistance. I will be going offline for the next couple hours but it will be my pleasure to assist you further if necessarywhen I return.

All the best to you moving forward.

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