Unfortunately, there are a number of scenarios where a previous employer can hinder your ability to get a new job. Furthermore, it is often extremely difficult to prove that you were unsuccessful in a job application due to the direct or indirect influence of a previous employer. It doesn’t matter, either, whether you voluntarily ended the employment or it was terminated by the employer. If you parted with your employer on bad terms, it could spell trouble for your future prospects.
With that said, it is illegal for a previous employer to hinder your chances of getting a new job as a form of retaliation. If you can prove that your old employer had a hand in you being unsuccessful in gaining new employment, you have a case for bringing legal action against him. However, establishing such proof will not be easy. In order to do so, you or your legal representative would need access to the prospective employer’s application process and records.
Suing a previous employer
One of the ways in which a former employer can indirectly affect your ability to get a new job is if you have or are suing them. This is particularly true of industries where there exists an active communication network. The prospective employer may become aware of the litigation (On the grapevine, so to speak), causing them to feel that employing you would present a risk. In such cases, you would need to establish proof such as the employer mentioning the litigation during the course of the application or interview process.
Obviously, the other scenario involves your previous employer willfully interfering in the application process. That is when retaliation comes into play. Not only is the employer deliberately hindering your chances of getting a new job, a court may also see it as attempting to interfere with the course of legal action against them. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, precedent has already been established for the protection of ex-employees in such cases. In the case of Robinson Vs Shell Oil Co., the petitioner was able to argue that his previous employer hindered his ability to secure new employment by providing a poor reference in retaliation for previous legal action taken against the company.
Termination of employment
Lying about being terminated from a previous job is generally not a good idea. However, your previous employer disparaging you to a prospective employer is not a good idea, either. The employer is essentially opening themselves up to litigation, as any information they provide to other employers is open to interpretation. For your part, it is best to be honest about the termination without making any derogatory remarks about your former employer.
While it is advisable to be honest about your employment being terminated, that doesn’t mean you should go overboard with your confessions. It is better to frame the termination as a learning experience, and swiftly move onto how you see your future employment playing out much more successfully. The prospective employer will appreciate that you are being candid about the situation and are determined not to let a bad experience to dictate your outlook of employers in general.
Transfer or promotion
In most jobs you would reasonably expect that opportunities for movement within the business would arise. If you had issues with a previous manager, which you feel were hindering your chance of progression, you may be the victim of ongoing harassment. Again, this type of case can be difficult to prove. So having records, which would provide evidence that your old manager is standing in your way, would really help support your claim. If you it is not possible to get historical records, you can ask for feedback and notes from any interviews for promotion that you attend.
The nature of your relationship with a previous manager should in no way hinder your progression. For instance, if the manager states on a report that you were argumentative or difficult, that could unfairly influence the interviewing panel. You can also bring any concerns you may have to the attention of the personnel department, in the first instance. If you suspect that there exists a bias towards you, you can pursue the matter outside of the workplace by consulting a labor lawyer.
Seeking legal advice
Due to the complications involved in proving this type of discrimination or retaliation, you should consider seeking legal advice. The sooner you start building your case the better. A labor lawyer can advise you on what constitutes evidence and the behaviors to look out for. It is always preferable to seek the most amicable solutions, as it portrays you as the reasonable party. Plus, going through the courts will only further stunt the progression of your career.
Retaliation, as it applies to the law, is not about an employer exacting revenge on an employee. The intention is to prevent the employee from pursuing legal action against the employer. As such, retaliation is not the same thing as discrimination. It does fall under the umbrella of both direct and indirect harassment, however. In either case, knowing the difference is important to how your case is handled. You should never allow anyone to prevent you from exercising your rights. Unscrupulous employers prey on the fear of employees who do not know the law, which is why so many people are reluctant to fight their corner. Make sure that your voice is heard.