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Can an employer find out if you've been fired?

By stprecision758 ·
I'm curious if a future employer can find out if you've been fired from a previous job, and if so can they find out the exact reason for that?

I'm guessing via background checks they can find out where you've worked, even if you don't disclose a specific employer because you've been fired from them.

If they do call the previous employer, can they find out the exact reason why you've been fired? I can't seem to get a straight answer on this.


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It's most certain .....

by outrageous1 In reply to Can an employer find out ...

That your current employer can find out if you've been fired from a previous job. That is, if you disclose via application or resume that you were employed at the place in question. All your current employer has to do is ask that manager if you were or not fired. Now, as for the reasoning for being fired, I'm not all too certain that that information can be disclosed, legally, by your previous employer.

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by awfernald In reply to It's most certain .....

Your previous employer must be "honest" when making any type of reports about you to anyone they talk to. Basically, what they can say is:

So-and-so worked for us from x date to y date, and left the company due to "resignation, retirement, discharge" etc...

Any information beyond that, and they are opening themselves up to a libel suit. It does not necessarily mean that the people there won't tell your new company about stuff that went on, it just means that if they get caught talking about it, then you have possible ground for a libel suit if you can prove that 1) they said it, and 2) it damaged you in a material way, and 3) it was not true (or rather, they have to prove that it was true).

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by Choppit In reply to

When I've given references in the past, unless I can give an unreserved 'would re-employ' then I'll only give start/end dates and position. Unanswered questions do the talking for me in these cases.

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by BSOD_420 In reply to

Mr. Ferland is correct.

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In South Carolina, No

by jbinner In reply to Can an employer find out ...

Legally, in SC, ALL they can ask of the previous employer is

1. Did this person work there?
2. Would you hire them again?

Obviously, if they say "no" to #2, then it's about the same anyway. :)

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Unlikely, but far from impossible

by amcol In reply to Can an employer find out ...

Companies are only legally required to confirm your employment status (did you or did you not actually work for them) and your dates of employment.

Calls to HR departments seeking further information are routinely deflected. No company wants to risk the legal ramifications of giving out more information than required.

Calls to former direct managers or supervisors (assuming they can be found) are not quite so cut and dried. People can, and do, say whatever they want.

Smaller organizations (total employment less than 99) don't necessarily follow the same rules either. Really small organizations, by virtue of their natural informality, can be difficult to control.

All of the preceeding has to do simply with a prospective employer determining if an applicant departed from a previous organization by virtue of resignation or termination. The reasons for either are a little more difficult to find out, although with some clever but simple probing it's not too difficult.

Overall, generally speaking, the chances a prior termination for cause and the reasons for that termination would be found out are pretty low...not more than 10%-20%.

BTW, it's an extraordinarily bad idea to not disclose a previous employer because you'd been fired. As you say, a background check can determine your actual employment history, and if you don't fully disclose you not only have something to explain you've given your new employer a reason to immediately fire you. You also have to account for your time...unless you're willing to put a period of unemployment on your resume in place of a job you'd rather not admit you held, or are willling to lie on your resume (an extremely, monumentally bad idea) it's best to put down the job and honestly answer any questions that may come up.

I really wouldn't worry too much about this.

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by stprecision758 In reply to Unlikely, but far from im ...

Thanks for all the info, amcol that was EXACTLY what I was looking for. Even if you don't disclose working for an employer, they can find out about it via background checks. Also with a large employer the chances of finding out you were fired are probably quite slim.

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No extra charge

by amcol In reply to Thankyou

If it makes you feel any better, I've been in exactly the same boat as you.

After working for a Fortune 500 financial services company for several years in a senior management position, there was a change at the executive level resulting in a new chief whose management style clashed badly with mine. After six months of torture I was dismissed.

On my resume I listed my tenure at this firm (of course). During interviews I was asked why I'd left. I responded by telling the truth. I didn't express any bitterness, I didn't blame anyone for my "misfortune", and most importantly I didn't dwell on explanation took about fifteen seconds. If an interviewer tried to press me further I deflected by changing the subject (as quickly and politely as possible) to how I could help the prospective employer achieve their business goals.

Moral of the story...I was rehired within two months, at a higher organizational level and at a better compensation. This all happened during the economic downturn, BTW, so anyone who tells you there are no jobs and/or you'll never get hired again and/or some other sob story is full of beans.

Good luck with your job search.

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by special01 In reply to No extra charge

Did you get the job you spoke of where the interviewer asked if you had been fired from and you told the truth?

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maybe not - but why take the chance?

by uofM In reply to Can an employer find out ...

I think honesty is the best policy. If I found out that one of my employee's "lied" on their resume. That would send a big red flag for me.

I am also in this position - but have always disclosed all my previous employers (and trust me, some of them are only for a month). I'm sure this has cost me some interviews, or jobs. But in the long run, I rather that than to have a great job and be released from it because I "left out" a small bit of info that may not have mattered to them in the first place.

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