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P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33103
Experience:  Employment Law Expert
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Can an employee of my previous employer discuss my termination

Customer Question

Can an employee of my previous employer discuss my termination with a person from another competing company? This individual had phone conversations with a friend of mine from from a competing company. These conversations were not in the context of me gaining new employment, just rather random conversations about me and my job performance. I have read that my former employer is not supposed to discuss my employment except in the concept of work references and employment history, of which these conversations were not.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  John replied 1 year ago.
Hi, thanks for submitting your question today. My name is John. I have over 13 years of legal and consulting experience in this area. I’m happy to assist you with your question today. I
In what state are you located, as these matters are generally controlled by state law. Likewise, is this a government job or private sector and please generally describe your occupation and what the employee stated about your employment.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I live in TN, the company was located in AR. The job was a private sector job as I was a sales representative based out of my house. The statements were made to a former associate of mine whom I supervised prior to taking the job I was terminated from. We are all in the corrugated box business and there are strict laws prohibiting conversations between competing companies. I was never written up, reprimanded, or verbally warned. I simply was terminated for what was described "failure to meet expectations". This is not what the person told on me as he said I was "terminated for not enough sales activity" even though the amount of activity was never discussed. Regardless, it is harmful to me as this is a small fraternal industry and there was zero reason to provide this information to a competitor who was my former employee I left before taking the job.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Hi, My name is Philip. I am an attorney with over 16 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.
Different expert here. I understand the background information...but I do not see your specific question(s) that relate. Do you have a question regarding this?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Do I have a potential suit for slander or anything else? Can they legally discuss my employment with anyone without my consent?
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 1 year ago.
Thank you
You say
I have read that my former employer is not supposed to discuss my employment except in the concept of work references and employment history, of which these conversations were not.
Not sure where you are getting this...there is no federal or state law that provides this. Frankly, such a law would likely violate the US and State Constitutions. The government can not pass a law prohibiting a person or company from sharing information about another person or company. Such a law would improperly violate the protections against "freedom of speech"
Now...having said that MANY companies will have such policies. That is, despite the fact that a company can freely discuss the reasons for termination of employment, and could share their opinion of the performance of a particular employee, very few companies will do this. Again, by choice, not because of some law or regulation.
The reason for this is tied to the legal doctrine of defamation.
Defamation is defined as a false statement of fact that harms the reputation of the victim.
If a company makes false claims of fact about an employee, they can be held liable for this defamation.
For this reason, many companies will choose do not make ANY claims about reasons for employee termination. Again, this is a policy decision that many companies make. And if they choose to violate that policy? IT would not be a basis for a lawsuit.
Now, in your case, IF this company (or an employee of this company) provided false information about you to another person or company and that false information harmed your reputation (for example, made it more difficult to obtain employment)?? Then you would have good case for defamation. You could sue the individual and/or the company to recover for the income lost because of their defamation.
So you may very well have recourse...but not because of the fact they made a statement...it would be IF they made a false statement of fact or facts about you that harmed your reputation.
Please let me know if you have more questions. Happy to help if I can. Otherwise please rate the answer so I may receive credit for my work