What Can Former Employers Share?

Former Employer

Many people ask the same question “What can a former employer say about me?” Former employers often feel very limited when responding to reference and past employment inquiries. Previous employers are understandably concerned about potential litigation arising out of the information provided regarding previous employers’ work history. In most states, it is fully legal to provide any truthful information on their previous employee. This includes information like job title, salary, performance, and even resignation and termination information.

Common Things Former Employers Will Share

If employers do release information, here are some common things former employers share

  • Salary
  • Job Title
  • Responsibilities
  • Conditions of resignation or termination
  • Professional conduct
  • Performance

Laws are not consistent among states though, so you should check about your specific state for more detailed information

Potential liability from not sharing information

As I mentioned previously, usually former employers say less than they legally can because of the risk of a costly lawsuit. There are no laws limiting factual answers from previous employers. They could actually incur liability by failing to disclose some facts about a previous employee. Specifically, if the information that they failed to disclose results in harm to employees or customers of the new employer. Many states have laws protecting employers from these kinds of lawsuits, and the one big consistency among all of them is the requirement to disclose the absolute truth.

During an interview, if you want to know more about what they would be asking, don’t be afraid to ask when the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions for us?” Lead the conversation and maybe even offer to give them contact information to your direct boss. This shows initiative and shows them that you are probably not hiding anything. Similarly, if you want to contact a previous employer to ask what information you can expect them to disclose that is also a possibility. You should never assume that a previous employer will not disclose information. This will allow you to be better prepared if they do decide to ask questions, don’t be afraid to share your side of the story.

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