I was laid off from my job and have been unable to find another. I think my former supervisor may be giving me a bad review or reference when an employer calls to check. How can I get evidence that she is bad mouthing me? If I can get the evidence can I hire an employment lawyer and file a lawsuit? Please tell me what I need to do. Thank you.
It is not clear what "case" you believe you might have. Former employers have the same right as everyone else to state their opinion and state the facts. You have no evidence they are even doing that. The best option is to keep trying to get another job.
Most of the time, there is no way to know if someone is "badmouthing" you unless a potential employer tells you what was said about you and by whom. Most companies as a matter of policy limit the information provided about former employers to their dates of employment, salary history and job description, so chances are good, no one is bad mouthing you. If you have evidence that that they are saying things to potential employers that are not true, then you may have a case. Keep in mind that truth is an absolute defense to charges of libel or slander, and opinion is not actionable.
If you are concerned an employer is giving false information about you to potential employers, there are companies you can hire that pose as potential employers that contact the old employer to discover what the old employer is saying about you. Often, you can also hire private investigators who will do the same thing. Finally, if you are unable to hire a service or private investigator, I have heard of people asking a friend to pose as a potential employer. This is not the best way to prove your case if you go to court but is useful to discover what a former employer is doing. Services and private investigators can testify as your witnesses.
If you discover an employer giving false information against you, you have two potential causes of action. The first is slander. If the former employer is "publishing" falsehoods against you, you can sue. Another cause of action is intentional interference with employment contract. If the only thing preventing you from getting a job is a former employer's falsehoods, you might be able to argue they are interfering with an employment contract.
The downside is proving your case. You might be able to support a slander claim with testimony from a service, private investigator or friend. But, it would be difficult to get money damages. To obtain damages, you probably need a potential employer to testify they based their decision not to hire you on the falsehood provided by the former employer.
You should contact an attorney to discuss your potential case. Good luck!
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