General Question

ZAGWRITER's avatar

I guess I am supposed to phrase this question like so: I was fired from my last job, should I allow a prospective employer to contact them?

Asked by ZAGWRITER (1506points) October 24th, 2010

Since I was fired from my last job, should I put down that whomever is looking at my job application can contact my former employer? I wasn’t in the best of circumstances at that job, and I am not sure that they could refrain themselves from repeating the garbage my supervisor would say about me. This is the third time I have tried to get this question posted, the title keeps it in need of being re-phrased, good lord.

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13 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

If I was you, I would ask a friend to pose as a prospective employer and call them to see what they say.

Also see this similar question for more information.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

well, sometimes I can’t seem to remember to search or I can’t phrase the question right, but thank you very much.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

How about putting together a resume that states, “References available upon request” at the bottom and attaching it to the application? That way, you don’t have to mark ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to a question about contacting former companies. Keep in mind that some hiring managers frown upon applicants who do not take the time to completely fill out an application and just attach a resume. It can be viewed as laziness.

Managers’ processes for hiring vary, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority do not check references until they have talked to an applicant at least once. It would allow you to objectively explain the situation. As to whether to then grant permission to contact the former company, I’d say do it. If an applicant told me no when they no longer work there, it is a big, red flag, and their application would go to the bottom of the pile.

The best of luck to you in your search!

chyna's avatar

Most companies are only legally allowed to say that you worked there and the dates that you worked there, but give out no other information. Apparently, too many companies have been sued for not telling that an employee was bad and for telling that an employees was bad, so most companies have abandoned this practice altogether.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Do you know what the company’s rules are about providing information during reference checks? The company I worked for only allowed us to verify start/end dates, salary and if the team member was eligible for rehire. They recently changed their policy so that all reference requests go through the HR dept. and previous managers are not allowed to respond to them or provide a written letter of recommendation.

As far as I know, there are no US laws as to what can and cannot be asked during a reference check. As for what information is illegal for a previous employer to give out are based upon EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) laws.

Employment References
It is illegal for an employer to give a negative or false employment reference (or refuse to give a reference) because of a person’s race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information. Source

@chyna True; a previous employee could file a lawsuit for defamation of character. Unless they have proof, they aren’t going to win. The reason companies create their own internal rules on what can be shared during a reference check is to prevent a lawsuit. Lawsuits are time-consuming and expensive, even if the company wins.

As for the too many companies have been sued for not telling that an employee was bad, that’s a new one for me.

chyna's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer My company had hired a person that had embezzled from her previous company and came to my company and embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars from my company. It was easy to do, back in the day. She paid claims to beneficiaries instead of to hospitals, so she simply made up names and post office boxes and sent checks to herself.
I had heard that my company was thinking about bringing a lawsuit against the other company as they gave her a “glowing” reference. She ended up committing suicide before she was taken to trial and I think my company dropped the lawsuit.

john65pennington's avatar

I can only tell you this from being a background police investigator for three years. if you mark NO in the box, this is an immediate red flag that you are hiding something.

Mark the YES box and let the chips fall where they may.

diavolobella's avatar

If you think you will get a bad reference, it’s better not to list that employer on your resume at all.

RomanExpert's avatar

chyna and Pied_Pfeffer are correct. And, at the interview, don’t say any negative things about your former employer. In the real world, they understand that people get thrown under the bus by supervisors who have it out for them or want to replace them with a friend…and there’s nothing they can do about it!

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@chyna Thanks. That’s a good example, although it might be difficult to prove. If it was in writing that the former company would rehire the person and there was proof that the former employee was found guilty, then yes, you have the evidence that could win a court case.

@diavolobella Wouldn’t it depend on how long the OP worked there? If it was a short period, s/he might be able to pull it off. In our company, we notice longer gaps between jobs and will inquire about it.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

I worked there eight and a half, almost nine years.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

That is a long time, and in my opinion, says something positive about your performance. Do you have any records of annual reviews, awards, or recognition? That might also help.

It is probably going to come down to the reason for the termination. Even if the former boss doesn’t share the information with the hiring manager, sometimes the word gets out.

ZAGWRITER's avatar

well the reason for termination could have been said for anyone in receiving. It was just documented when it came to me, because my former boss didn’t like me. Thank you for the positive remarks. In truth, I’m starting to get concerned. Not having a job freaks me out.

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