What do you do if a former employer is telling prospective employers lies about your time at his company? This is what is happening to a TechRepublic member.


I’ve blogged before about why you should never trash a former employer during an interview with a prospective employer. But what do you do if a behavior of that former employer could negatively impact your future prospects? A TechRepublic member e-mailed me with a scenario that could break the rules. Here’s what he had to say:

“I was happy to find your group. I need a little advice. I was fired from my last position by a manager whose favorite hobby is destroying peoples’ reputations. My former manager fired 11 people in 4 years for various reasons when it was just the manager’s hobby.

I was able to work for this person for four years and survive the mauling until recently. I had not left the job because I am financially supporting an elderly parent.

I was told by one of my references that he had been called by my former manager and told I was fired for theft. Little did the manager know we went to high school together and my friend knew better. Yes, I have gotten the EEOC involved.

The real question is how do I handle the interview or hiring process? Do I offer the information that I was fired or wait until the background check comes back and then I am fired a second time (for lying on job application)?”

So, can you go ahead and talk about a former employee in a bad light if he is, as in this case, a raving crackpot? My first inclination was to tell the guy who wrote that he should explain upfront in the interviews only about his former manager’s accusations and the EEOC suit he has filed. That way, he is alerting the interviewer to the information he might get from his old boss, as well as showing that he objects to the charges enough to file a formal suit against the guy.

But then I thought, what if they don’t even call his references? Has he exposed himself as having this extra “baggage” when he didn’t have to?

References are a really tricky thing. It would be great if he could find someone else in the organization who could verify the dates of his employment, which is really all they should be doing anyway.

I’m sure the bad-reference sabotage happens more often than people know. There are people out there who take it personally when you leave a position; they act like spurned lovers and try to keep you from moving on with your life. It may be worth having someone you trust call in to get a “reference” for you to see what he is told.

Got a career scenario of your own? E-mail it to us here. We’ll post it anonymously, and see what kind of feedback your peers have to offer.