Ex-employer telling others not to hire me.

I was recently laid-off from my job. There are many other employees that are below me as far as seniority and they are still employed with the company. Is there a law on the order that employers should lay-off their employees.
Also, my employer is telling all possible employers that I have been contacting not to hire me. I know this cannot be legal. They are black-balling the contractors into not hiring me.
I also need to know that since I was laid-off, can my ex-employer hire someone else to do my job without first offering me my job back?

1 answer  |  asked Jul 3, 2001 11:16 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Richard Renner
Seniority and black-balling

Ordinarily, employers are free to hire and fire whomever they like. This freedom is called "employment-at-will." It is an ancient English doctrine that never seemed to apply to slaves. Anyway, you are free to quit anytime you like, and the boss can fire you for any reason, or no reason at all, as long as it is not an illegal reason.

The primary protection against an unjust discharge is a union contract. Next time you are employed, think about whether you could get at least half of your co-workers to support a union. Union contracts typically prohibit discharges or discipline without "just cause." Further, layoffs and recalls are typically by seniority.

Black-balling is difficult to challenge legally. Successful cases usually get a more detailed report of what the employer is saying, and find something untrue in it. This is an action for defamation. As defamation actions infringe on the bosses' right to free speech, they are disfavored. Employers have a "qualified privilege" that allows them to make statements that they believe in good faith, even if they are mistaken. The privilege furthers the "public interest" by giving prospective employers a full account of the applicant's background. If you are serious about pursuing this, you can have friendly employers call on your behalf and make a record of what exactly the previous employer is saying about you. Several firms do this for a fee. You can also hire a private investigator.

I must ask, why do you think the former employer is doing this to you? Perhaps it is unlawful discrimination or retaliation. If so, there is certainly some time limit for you to make a legal complaint, depending on the basis of the employer's ire. For race, sex or age discrimination, the time limit is typically 300 days from the date of the wrongful act (6 months for complaints to the Ohio Civil Rights Commission). If it is retaliation for trying to enforce environmental laws, the time limit is 30 days. Other laws have time limits ranging from 10 days to 6 years. The time limit for the defamation claim is one year.

A good book lists many laws that protect employees. It is called Job Rights & Survival Strategies. It costs $22.95. Look at:

posted by Richard Renner  |  Jul 4, 2001 08:20 AM [EST]

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