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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 102601
Experience:  Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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I recently began a job search and have not had any responses. Last night a former co

Customer Question

Hi. I recently began a job search and have not had any responses. Last night a former colleague informed me that my past employer has put a hand written note in my personnel file stating "do not rehire". I was shocked. I gave 30 days notice and worked to the end. I even did a presentation at a national conference as a representative of the organization during my notice period.
I also had good to excellent performance reviews. I was never counseled or written up. I am worried. I have seen them put things in a personnel file after the fact for other people and if they are aware that I have this information they may alter the record. This do not rehire status must be what is keeping me from getting a job. I am more than qualified however, at 61 years old employers can be hesitant to begin with. Do I have an recourse?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (A) This is general information and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms; and (B) the site allows experts not participate in phone calls and I may or may not be able to participate in this feature.
I am sorry to hear about this situation. On this website, I do not always get to give good news, and this is one of these times. I understand that hearing things less than optimal is not easy, and I empathize. Thanks in advance for not "shooting the messenger."
The personnel file is the employer's, not yours. They can write whatever they wish in the file, even if it is derogatory.
Now normally, a personnel file is not shared with another company. This is just not done. What is more likely to happen is that the other company can call the former employer for a REFERENCE.
The reference cannot be false. It has to be it is accurate and not misleading. This means that most employers simply give out dates of employment, job title, and reason for dismissal or termination (or, if left voluntarily).
However, there is a way that employers can make a comment that is perfectly lawful. The company can ask "Would you rehire this person," and the employer CAN ANSWER HONESTLY how they feel. So they employer may be saying "I do not think I would."
While this is derogatory, it is not illegal. IF this is happening, then the employer is in their right to state this, I am afraid.
Otherwise if the employer is giving out inaccurate, negligent or deliberately misleading information in the reference, this may be as a suit for DEFAMATION.
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