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Bad References – Defamation

Most employers know better than to say anything negative about their former employees. However, it still happens. The consequences of bad references can be devastating. Employees may go for long periods of time without finding gainful employment because a former supervisor is telling prospective employers how terrible an employee you were. Oftentimes cases regarding bad references are difficult to prove because you may suspect your previous employer is giving bad references but you do not know exactly what is being said. If you suspect your former employer is giving bad references to prospective employers, contact us immediately for advice on how to proceed.

In California, if you were terminated for something you didn’t do (e.g. being falsely accused of theft), you have a legal duty to disclose the stated reasons for your termination if asked by prospective employers. This is called “self-compelled defamation,” where you essentially have to defame yourself. However, you still need a job, and we would advise you to be as diplomatic as possible in responding to prospective employer inquiries into why you were terminated from your previous job. Remember though that if the interviewer pushes you, you must be honest. If you have been terminated for serious misconduct that you were not actually involved in, contact us immediately for advice and counseling.