You have been working hard to find a new job, but at the same time, your current or ex-employer is working diligently to get in the way. You’re wondering, "well, what can I do"? That depends on the particulars surrounding your situation and potential case.
What can your current or ex-employer say to your prospective employer?
Let's say your ex-employer is picking up calls from possible employers and giving a mediocre review of your employment, but they're leaving just enough up to the caller's imagination. In this case, you may have a hard time suing for "defamation," for example. A tepid or honest recommendation from your ex-boss that says it all between the lines but does not contain any actual malice or slander is most likely not going to be enough.
What can’t a current or ex-employer say to your prospective employer?
However, suppose you were a whistleblower at your old job regarding, for example, their mistreatment of employees, unsafe working conditions, or illegal behavior on the part of your ex-employer. In any of those situations, you very well may have a case. If your former employer is bad-mouthing you due to your whistleblowing, they may be violating anti-retaliation laws.
Another example of actionable behavior from your employer includes being passed over for a promotion due to your gender, speaking up about it, and getting fired as a result. In this instance, you could be looking at a sex-based discrimination suit.
If these negative workplace scenarios weren’t bad enough, they are made even worse by a former employer who is going out of their way to pain an inaccurate depiction of you to prospective employers. At this point your former boss may be legally liable for their attempts to sabotage your job search.
What should you do if your employer is trying to sabotage your job search?
Distinguishing between honest feedback and illegal retaliation is key when suspecting former employer sabotage. Actions rooted in revenge or discrimination breach legal lines. For clarity on rights and recourse, consult an employment attorney. If you experience any of these situations, you continue your job hunt and hope for the best. However, be aware that negative references generally do not disappear on their own, meaning your ex-boss will most likely continue to damage your reputation whenever a call comes in from a potential employment prospect for some time to come. It is wishful thinking to hope otherwise.
The better course of action is to confirm that you are not just experiencing paranoia and consult with an attorney from an employment law firm.
In the meantime, if you suspect that your current or former employer is trying to sabotage your job search, do not post your concerns on social media. It is common for prospective employers to check your social media accounts and this will paint you in a very negative light. Instead, reach out to an experienced employment attorney at the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak to review your case and inform you of your rights and options.