Can a previous employer disclose why you left?
When you provide information about former employers, you might wonder if they can disclose why you left. Some job seekers might believe that employers are limited to only revealing a former employees job title, pay, and dates of employment. While there are no federal laws that prohibit disclosure, there are state laws that prevent former employers from releasing certain information. However, most state laws permit employers to provide information about job responsibilities, performance, and professional conduct. Most companies also have policies regarding what they disclose and often employers will limit what they release about former employees to prevent getting sued for defamation.
What can past employers disclose?
While checking with your state laws will provide you with the most specific answers, previous employers can disclose the following about your past employment with them:
- Former employers can disclose if you were fired and the reason.
- Depending on state laws, previous employers might be able to provide general information about job performance.
- Past employers can legally disclose anything that is accurate and factual.
Reach out to former employers about disclosure.
To avoid any misunderstanding, you can reach out to former employers and find out exactly what they disclose regarding past employment. While larger companies likely have policies, smaller companies might not. Either way, clarifying what they disclose provides peace of mind and prevents false assumptions. If your past employer does provide more than just the basics, you can ask if they are willing to limit what they disclose if it might hurt future employment.
Truth is the best policy.
Sticking to the truth when sharing details about former employment records is always best, even if you made mistakes. The truth will earn you more respect in the long run even if you don’t get hired. Most previous employers will provide facts and you must ensure that your story is the same as theirs.
If you are concerned about negative remarks from past employers, providing positive references can help your case. Having references from co-workers or supervisors that you had a good relationship with can provide the hiring team with more insight into your character.