What a Former Employer Can Say About You in Texas

Jobs don’t always end well. Maybe you were terminated because your manager suspected you of stealing, or perhaps a colleague accused you of sexual harassment. Regardless of whether or not such claims were valid, they can tarnish your reputation and make it difficult to find another job.

If you ended your last job on bad terms, you might be concerned about what this means for your future employment opportunities. If a prospective employer contacts your previous company for an employer reference, what are they allowed to say?

What Can Past Employers Disclose About Me to Future Employers?

If a prospective employer contacts your previous workplace, your prior employer can legally disclose anything about your employment, including your salary, job duties, vacation days taken, disciplinary action, or concerns about your job performance. 

However, employers rarely provide this much information to avoid any liability or risk of legal claims of defamation or slander against them. Employers only typically request general employment verification details to confirm the accuracy of your application. 

Each Company's Policies Differs 

Some companies have internal policies, which limit the details an employer may disclose in such a reference. For instance, a company policy may dictate that an employer can only confirm a former employee’s job title and dates of employment—but prohibits them from releasing information pertaining to the employee’s performance or reason for leaving. However, it’s important to understand that such policies are company-specific—not a requisite of any law.

State laws concerning employer references vary greatly across the country. In today’s post, we examine the relevant laws in Texas.

Information That Employers Can Disclose

Under Texas law, an employer may release the following information to a former employee or prospective employer:

  • Reason employee left the company—and if terminated, the reason for termination
  • Employee’s performance on the job
  • Other assessment factors, such as employee’s effort, attendance and attitude

As long as the employer’s disclosure is written in good faith, and the employer has reason to believe the above-stated information is true, they are immune from any liability.

Document of an Employee's Departure

Anytime an employee leaves a job voluntarily, their employer must give them a document stating that the employee’s separation from the company was voluntary and detailing the employee’s:

  • Job title,
  • Dates of employment and
  • Performance.

Can I Request a Copy of What My Previous Employer Disclosed?

A former employee also has the right to request a written copy of any information a former employer provides to the former employee’s prospective employer. The former employer must provide this statement within 10 days of receive such a request, along with the names of all recipients of the statement.

In addition, even if a former employee does not specifically request a disclosure of employer referrals, the former employer must send the former employee a copy of any employer referral they send, if it includes the reason for the employee’s termination. This requirement is nullified only if the former employee has explicitly permitted the release of this information in writing.