A question about the legal privacy protections in California .

I think I know the answer to this question, but would love a confirmation.

Are the reasons for a separation of employment, regardless of the circumstances, legally protected.

In other words, Can a Manager in a position to know the details of why a person voluntarily resigned, share that information with non management employees or even just friends in her life. Would she be breaking the law? Could the employer and/or the manager herself be sued and/or prosecuted even for doing that?

A friend needs to know. :slight_smile: (Hah, cracking myself up.)

Thanks to any and all comers.

My WAG based on Canadian law -

Medical information is definitely legally protected - if you receive medical information on a need to know basis like “yes, this person is entitled to unpaid leave / disability insurance because of…” you certainly cannot share those details without a good reason. I presume this extends to justifications for why someone could quit and still be eligible for unemployment coverage. (“I have to do a stint in rehab…”)

Personal details are a bit trickier - you can’t give out birthday, address, phone number, bank account, etc. Whether that includes gossip “She’s running off to Germany to marry someone she met on the internet” - that’s a bit trickier. OTOH, drug problems or cancer would qualify as medical information… but “I’ll be sharing a cell with Lindsay Lohan” is public information.

Plus there’s the employment issues. Bad-mouthing an ex-employee that might reduce their chances of getting a job is not illegal but does risk the boss and the company being sued if the ex-employee is denied a job due to malicious or incorrect information being passed on. A lot of companies have a policy of not admitting anything except “Yes, the person worked here”.

But more personal information like “she’s quitting because her teen daughter is having a baby and she’ll help raise it” or “his midlife crisis is to travel around the world” - it may be gossip but I can’t see that it’s protected.

Common sense says that a boss or HR person who cannot keep confidences is just asking for trouble regardless if they are breaking any laws.

IANAL, but as far as I know, in California, there is no law for preventing anyone from discussing an employee’s hiring, employment, or dismissal from employment (1st amendment and all that). There may be an employment contract the parties signed that stipulates what may or may not be discussed both during employment and after termination, where the violation of would be a breach of contract though.

The biggest reason companies these days reveal nothing more than employment dates for a former employee is the fear of libel or slander lawsuits. If your “friend” feels she has been slandered, she should go see a lawyer.

Thanks guys.

My big question in all sorts of hypothetical (or not-so-hypothetical) cases like this is,
How in the world would you ever find out about it anyway???

Well, lets say I was snubbed by an ex co-worker I happened to run into and I said something like, “Gee, really? You’re going to ignore 7 months of a friendly relationship between us all because I quit my job because I was too embarrassed to return after I had a bad reaction to a prescription drug?”

And lets say they then said something like “Well, that’s not what I heard.”

That’s kind of how I imagined it.