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  • Contacting previous employers

    Does a potential employer have to get your signed permission to contact previously employers? Or can they simply call and inquire about you without your knowledge?

    Do past employers have the right to bash past employees to a current/potential employer?

  • #2
    No, they don't need your permission to contact an ex-employer.

    I don't know what you mean specifically by "bash", but the ex-employer can give their honestly-held opinion.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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    • #3
      You're kidding me? They can actually give their honest (or not) opinion about a previous employee? In CA they can not say anything that would hender a past employee of getting a job....so basically all they can say is, "yes they worked here"...ID is different I see.

      What a wonderful state.

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      • #4
        Idaho laws

        If a past employer is upset when you leave the company no matter what the circumstances - if they plain just did not like you - and really wanted you to be misreable they could say anything about you to a potential employer?

        If you found this out do you have any grounds to defend yourself? Legally or otherwise?

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        • #5
          Originally posted by burb4pam View Post
          In CA they can not say anything that would hender a past employee of getting a job....so basically all they can say is, "yes they worked here"...ID is different I see.

          What a wonderful state.

          That is not true. There is no law that prohibits the employer to only certain information, in any state. It's an urban myth and I don't know where it comes from except that it is the policy in some companies to limit information given out when asked for references. There is no LAW that limits the information, except if it is an outright lie. "John was fired for stealing" when John wasn't is a lie. "John was fired for suspicion of stealing" (even if he wasn't found to be stealing) is not a lie if that's why John was fired. "John did a terrible job on the Smith account" is not a lie, it's an opinion, even if Smith doesn't agree.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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          • #6
            CA law does not prohibit an employer from giving their honestly held opinion, either. No state does. CA, like many states, does not allow an employer to misrepresent or to imply something that is not true. But that is a far cry from limiting an employer to confirming that you worked there.

            If a former employee, in any state, is able to confirm that UNTRUE information is being provided, they can take legal action. By untrue I mean, as an example, saying that you were fired for stealing when you were not. Untrue does not mean that the employer and the employee have a differing opinion on the employee's work. The employer may give their honest opinion, even if it is negative.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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            • #7
              OK, cbg, you and I have been together here too long.
              I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by burb4pam View Post
                Does a potential employer have to get your signed permission to contact previously employers? Or can they simply call and inquire about you without your knowledge?
                If you fill out an application with us, you are giving us permission to contact all previous employers, to check your DMV record, criminal record and more. It is part of the application.

                Many former employers of my applicants refuse to disclose any information without a copy of your release authorizing them to do so.

                If I get a call from a prospective employer, though, I don't insist on wasting paper by getting the signed release. I will tell them the truth. My state's laws protect me from litigation so long as what I say is not untruthful.
                Senior Professional in Human Resources and Certified Staffing Professional with over 30 years experience. Any advice provided is based upon experience and education, but does not constitute legal advice.

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                • #9
                  My state's laws protect me from litigation so long as what I say is not untruthful.

                  Almost all states have that same protection. Including Idaho.
                  The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                  • #10
                    I have worked for employers who had hard internal rules that no one but Human Resources gave references. This was not some law but rather the employer saying the line supervisors/managers who violate this company imposed rule will get fired (and this occasionally happened). I talked to HR on this and their concern was that they never wanted anyone in a position of authority with the company to make statements to a third party unless the company collectively was prepared to support those statements in court. And HR strongly felt that whatever was going to be said was hard documented in the personnel file, they (HR) wanted people in a position of authority to keep their big mouth's shut. And the notion of some supervisor/manager trashing a former employee on some issue that the supervisor/manager could not be bothered to document was a non-starter as far as HR was concerned.

                    For example. If Bob's supervisor is going to tell prospective employer that Bob was a drunk and a druggie then Bob's supervisor just put the employer in a position where they might have to defend those statements in court. If the personnel file supports those statements, then the company will have no problem defending those statements. But if the first the employer hears about these assertions is when they are sued, then the employer is in a very weak position. At these companies I worked for, HR wanted to be the sole voice to prospective employers because they could (and would) check the personnel file and knew what could be safely said.

                    On the several occasions that I wanted to give a positive reference for a former employee, I wrote up the reference, and sent it over to HR for vetting. There might be some re-write, but HR was not generally adverse to the process as long as they controlled what was actually said and as long as the supervisor/manager was not directly talking to third parties.

                    When we had a former employee held in negative regard, HR might talk to the supervisor/manager to check facts, but HR had no interest in getting a letter from the manager/supervisor.
                    Last edited by DAW; 03-12-2008, 01:39 PM.
                    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                    • #11
                      Idaho employers who in good faith provide information about former or current employees' job performance, professional conduct, or evaluation to prospective employers at the prospective employer's or employee's request may not be held civilly liable.

                      Employers aren't required to give references.
                      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

                      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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                      • #12
                        DAW, I don't disagree with that policy, generally, in practice. The problem is that "HR" doesn't normally know the kinds of things that prospective employers want/need to know, such as work habits, attitude, initiative, attention to detail, things like that.
                        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                        • #13
                          Perhaps not. But at least at my last few employers we had very hard company policies that only HR talked to prospective employers, and if it was not documented in the personnel file, it did not get mentioned. I can say that both of these companies had formal reviews and the sort of things you mentioned were mostly part of the review. And the employers I worked did not care if the prospective employer's (or former employees) got what they wanted.
                          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                          • #14
                            You don't give you don't get.
                            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                            • #15
                              Double Time

                              Is there a law in Idaho for paying double time or is it up to each individual employer?

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