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What can a former employer LEGALLY say about me? Iowa

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  • What can a former employer LEGALLY say about me? Iowa

    In Iowa, how much information can a former employer divulge about me to a prospective employer?

  • #2
    Your state is not my state, and maybe, possibly your state has some law I have not heard of (would not be the first time).

    The general answer in all 50 states is that any employer can make any statement that the employer believes to be true. As long as the employer is "absence of malice", they are more or less immune from a libel/slander action. There is nothing in the libel/slander laws that requires statements to be factually proved, just not deliberately made falsely. So we would be taking about the state passing an actual law telling the employer to shut up. My state (California) which is generally considered much more employer friendly then your state has no such law.

    This question gets asked a lot on this website. There have always been rumors about laws requiring employers to say next to nothing. The problem is that no one has ever been able to substantiate such laws. I have worked for employers who were much tighter in this area then legally required, and these employer's issue was not that they wanted nothing said, but that they wanted to control who said it. I have worked for employers where line supervisors would have been fired for making any statements about former employees. Not because it was directly against the law, but because if you have enough supervisors making enough statements sooner or later one of them will lie or make something up, maybe crossing the "absence of malice" line associated with libel/slander laws. These employers wanted all statements without exception on former employees to be made by Human Resources, who understood the rules and would not make statements unsupported by the employee's file.

    The one obvious exception could be information used for something like ID theft. If a former employer handed out SSN and hire dates, they could and should be sued for actual damages.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      Iowa - Employers have limited immunity from civil liability for providing references to persons believed in good faith to represent prospective employers unless (1) the work-related information violates a civil right of the current or former employee, (2) the work-related information is knowingly provided to a person with no legitimate reason to receive work-related information, or (3) the work-related information isn't relevant to the inquiry being made, is provided with malice, or is provided with no good-faith belief that it's true. Employers aren't required to give references.
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