Possible "victim" of past place of work -- what to do?

If a person found out that a previous employer was giving out false and possibly slanderous information about them when a prospective employer called for a reference, what could you do? For instance, if the previous employer was saying that you never got along with others, that you were not a team player, that you were a slacker, etc., all false claims, what could you do? First off, how could you prove that it was happening?

I don’t know what the law says throughout the country, but where I live, a previous employer can basically say three things. 1) Yes you worked there. 2) The dates you worked there. 3) Whether or not you are rehireable. I highly suspect this has been happening to me but I have no clue how to prove it.


Get a friend or relative to call and pretend to be a potential employer looking for background/references on you and find out what’s being said about you for sure, rather than acting on suspicion.

AFAIK there’s no legal requirment that limits an ex-employer to the three pieces of information you noted. Employers can say whatever they want, as long as it’s true. The reason employers tend to stick to those three pieces is out of concern for being sued. One high-profile case of an ex-employee suing a former employer was Diana Ross getting sued by a former personal assistant over a bad reference. Even if what the employer says is true, why take the chance of having to bother with a lawsuit?

Here’s an article on the issue.

This is why larger organisations have staff appraisals and assessments.

They can say what they like as long as they have proof, if there make some criticism and their records do not support it, then they can be sued.

Its one of the ways union representatives fight their cases for unfairly dismissed employees, its not at all rare to find bullying and harassment and an employee being summarily dismissed for some supposed infringement such as insubordination etc.
A look at the company reocrds often shows no previous history and often has commendations, and is often completely at odd with the supervisors version.

If its a small company with no records, and these allegations are made, unless there is some blindingly obvious reason such as ‘gross misconduct’, theft or whatever, then they could be putting themsleves in a dodgy postition, but most of the time it is not worth it and you learn to move on.

in addition, use (former) co-workers, not just managers or owners, as references, if at all possible.

i’ve been in a situation where my leaving a company, despite giving proper notice etc. left management feeling like they wanted to burn me… i used the management as a reference for proof of employment, and several co-workers as references for proof of work ethic, etc.