What is a past employer legally allowed to disclose to a potential future employer other than verify that you were an employee?

Are past employers in Florida allowed to disclose if you filed any claims or the reason for your termination? I know they can say if they would rehire you or not, but is there more that a past employer can legally disclose?

Stuart, FL -

Attorney Answers (3)

Donna Marie Ballman

Donna Marie Ballman

Employment / Labor Attorney - Fort Lauderdale, FL
Answered

In general, employers in Florida are protected from a lawsuit if they give truthful information in references. Some employers only give neutral references, that is, dates of employment and job title. If a former employer says something deliberately false, such as telling a potential employer you were fired for theft, they may be liable for defamation of character. They can't legally give out medical information. And if they disclose that you filed with EEOC, as an example, they may have some liability for retaliation. I hope this helps!

Stuart M. Address

Stuart M. Address

Employment / Labor Attorney - Stuart, FL
Answered

A former employer in Florida may disclose almost anything about your work history to a prospective employer excluding protected information such as health data. However, if a former employer makes negative statements about you which are untrue, you may have a claim against the former employer for defamation.

Absent some agreement with the former employer, they may disclose all truthful information and opinion. Whether the disclosure rises to the level of defamation will depend on the specific information disclosed.

L. Maxwell Taylor

L. Maxwell Taylor

Employment / Labor Attorney - Middlebury, VT
Answered

Unless you have some agreement with them about what they will or will not say, I know of no principle of law that prevents them from telling the the prospective employer the truth about why you were terminated, whether they were satisfied with your performance, and the like. They shouldn't be talking about things like your health information or worker's compensation, but the usual rule is that other information about your performance as an employee is fair game.

Don't take the above as legal advice, though, because I'm not a Florida lawyer. A Florida lawyer will know more than I do about Florida law and may have something different to say. What I wrote above is just information based on general principles of law which is intended to educate. If you need legal advice, please consult a lawyer who holds Florida licensure. That's not me.

Good luck.

Questions? An attorney can help.

Ask a Question
Free & anonymous.
Find a Lawyer
Free. No commitment.