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  #1  
Old 09-13-2004, 09:41 AM
SatyrDave SatyrDave is offline
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What can my prospective employer ask my current employer?

I have a second round job interview this afternoon. They asked in my first interview if they could contact my current employer. I told them yes and they asked me what they would say about my job attendance. I said he would tell them my attendance is good. lately my attendance is less than perfect but stll not bad. legally what information can my current employer give out? In case jurisdiction comes in to play, I am in Tennessee.

Thanks
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  #2  
Old 09-13-2004, 09:46 AM
Otto Otto is offline
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IANAL, etc. As I understand it, your current employer is free to give out any information that isn't considered confidential either under the law or company policy. Attendance probably doesn't fall under that prohibition; discipline you may have faced because of attendance probably would. Most employers today, however, will not confirm anything other than dates of employment and whether the employee would be eligible for rehire (a crafty way of saying whether the employee was fired or not), for fear of lawsuits.
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Old 09-13-2004, 09:54 AM
Hampshire Hampshire is offline
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Because it is such a sticky thing and companies prefer not to be sued by past employees they usually limit info to verifying that "Yes, Joe Smith was employed by us between the dates of 5/94 thru 8/04" and that's about it.
When doing hiring that's all I could get out of most companies. Of course i'd try plenty of follow up questions, "Are they rehireable? Why do they not work there anymore? How was their attendance?" If you got a hold of a hardcore HR person you'd get nowhere. If you got a hold of some assistant manager you might get lucky and they'd spill their guts.
Of course you couldn't use the info against the applicant directly, "Your past employer said you were lazy."
You'd have to pass on them with lines like "Your availability and past experience are not what we are currently looking for," or "Other applicants were more qualified."
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Old 09-13-2004, 01:53 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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If your current employer is of any decent size, and they have any sort of well communicated HR policies, your boss will forward the call to HR, or just say that no one will give anything but the data others have mentioned. Even without that, though, I would be very nervous about rating anyone's attendance. If you say it is good, you then don't make your new employer happy, the new employer will be mad. If they say it is bad, there probably is an assumption that it is very bad, and you will be unhappy, since it doesn't seem to be.

If you are really concerned, you can ask your boss what he is going to say (I assume you've told them, so the first they hear of you leaving is not from your prospective employer.) If he hems and haws, you can call HR and ask what the policy is. (This shouldn't be a big secret.) If they don't give out this information, and it seems that your boss will, you might ask them to remind your boss of the policy. This isn't for you, it is for the good of the company.

But I probably wouldn't worry, unless your boss has it in for you.
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  #5  
Old 09-13-2004, 02:01 PM
FatBaldGuy FatBaldGuy is offline
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If you told them in the first interview that they could call your employer, and now they're asking you back for a second interview, you can bet that

1) they've already talked to your employer.
2) they are still interested in you.
3) Hi, Opal !
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Old 09-13-2004, 09:13 PM
MLS MLS is offline
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I'm not a lawyer or an HR person, but it's my impression that a prospective employer may NOT contact a current one without your consent. The obvious reason is that it could jeopardize your current employment if they find you're looking around. I could be that the new company has every intention of hiring you, but what if one more applicant interviews and they change their mind? You'd not only have the new job, your current boss would know you were about to abandon ship, and this could have negative consequences for you.

Each time I've changed jobs, I did not give such permission. After they've made the offer, and you've accepted, they can certainly then make contact to find out, for example, if you're lying about having worked there or other matters of factual substance. If you have, they would be within their rights to withdraw the offer. I've known of such things happening.

As has been said, it's usual for companies to have an official policy on such matters, to refer them to the HR dept., who will provide facts about time of employment, job title, possibly salary. Many are quite leery of saying bad things about you so that you don't sue them for libel or slander, or of saying good things lest the new employer find that the assessment is inaccurate.

However, sometimes people who want to put in a good word for a former employee or co-worker will offer facts in such a way as to put him/her in a good light. For example, one can offer that Joe was let go because he had been hired for a specific project, now ended. Or because there was an across-the-board reduction in staff. I would never say that we let George go because he was a poor worker, had a bad attitude, etc.
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Old 09-13-2004, 09:35 PM
LivingInThePast LivingInThePast is offline
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But we have ways...

Hi. IANAL and so on, but I did run across this (which requires a free registration). It gives some ideas on how the HR folks can pry info out of former employers. Basically, it says if the human at the old place feels comfortable, he/she will spill some beans.

FWIW.
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Old 09-13-2004, 10:05 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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I agree with [/B]LivingInThePast[B]. A manger might do nothing other verify employment becuae of company policy (and that was written-down policy at my last employer), but is more likely to say good things than bad, because the fear of being sued over adverse comments is so much higher. Even if your boss thinks you're a total fuckup, (s)he may make positive comments in hopes of getting rid of you. But there is another side to the coin. I believe there have been some cases, though I can't come up with a cite now, where a new employer sues the previous employer over "false positive" comments. If your supervisor says provably untrue good things about you, they may be liable to the other party later. I would imagine this would most frequently come up in touting someone's expertise at something that they really know nothnig about, because it's unlikely they could "prove" things related to attitude or work habits, both of which are subject to change.
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Old 09-14-2004, 04:51 AM
six_personalities six_personalities is offline
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We were always taught in Manpower Management that the way to get round this is easy.If the employee is good,you tell them 'Six_Personalities has an excellent work rate and absenteeism record'. If not,when they ask you simply reply 'I cannot comment on that'.You haven't said anything that they may use to claim against you but the other employer gets the picture
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Old 09-14-2004, 05:24 AM
glee glee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by six_personalities
We were always taught in Manpower Management that the way to get round this is easy.If the employee is good,you tell them 'Six_Personalities has an excellent work rate and absenteeism record'. If not,when they ask you simply reply 'I cannot comment on that'.You haven't said anything that they may use to claim against you but the other employer gets the picture
In a similar vein:

'You will be lucky to get this person to work for you.'
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Old 09-14-2004, 10:45 AM
DougC DougC is offline
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- - - I have read in news articles that while companies are technically free to discuss anything not explicitly stated beforehand as confidential, they do not--because they don't want to get sued for defamation when your old boss starts blabbing about what a lazy sh**-bag he personally thought you always were. So (with many bigger US companies) now the only things they will give out under any circumstance is just the facts--your employment dates, your employment status (regular employee or contract-term) and they will say if you were terminated or you resigned.
~
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  #12  
Old 09-14-2004, 04:13 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by six_personalities
We were always taught in Manpower Management that the way to get round this is easy.If the employee is good,you tell them 'Six_Personalities has an excellent work rate and absenteeism record'. If not,when they ask you simply reply 'I cannot comment on that'.You haven't said anything that they may use to claim against you but the other employer gets the picture
That won't work, because if adopted not giving a comment becomes equivalent to a negative comment.

I've run into similar problems when called (or calling) other managers in the same company when someone wants to transfer. Here saying good things is easy, but you don't want to say bad things for fear of a blowup. Especially dangerous is when managers say a total goofball is great to get rid of him. For that reason you learn to ask for the written evaluations, which, while not 100% perfect, are a little bit safer/
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