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When you say that you started filling out applications, did you fill out an application with Southern Patient Care?
Why did they contact you? How did they know you were looking for work? Did you just fill out a general, headhunter application?
Ok. Here is the problem.
It is not illegal to say that you were looking for work there. It's not legally confidential information.
It is also not slander or defamation of character, because it was true. You did send your application to the company. It is a fair statement and not legally unreasonable inference to say that you were looking for work there. The fact that you didn't take the job doesn't legally change the fact that you did apply there.
The point here is that truth is a complete defense to slander or any form of defamation. The remainder of their statement "I wouldn't keep him if I were you" is an opinion statement and on they are legally entitled to hold and share with others.
Now, I'm not saying they behaved professionally or fairly here at all. The point though is that there is no legal claim here. It was not legally slander and it was not legally confidential.
I wish I could tell you differently here, but I'm simply respecting you enough to be honest with you here.
It was both true and not confidential. There is no law that makes it illegal to say that someone applied to your office for a job. It's just not made confidential by any statute or regulation anywhere.
For something to be confidential, a specific statute or regulation has to make it so. Medical information, bank information, social security information, etc. all have a statute that specifically makes it confidential.
Your applying to an employer isn't confidential. I'm sorry. Again, I wish I could tell you differently here, but I can't do so.