Employers are under no obligation to provide references for former employees. Providing employment references may leave former employers open to legal liability from the former employee and the prospective employer.
Employers also must take care not to reveal information about the employee that could give rise to an invasion of privacy claim. For example, employers may not disclose private family or medical information about an employee. A past employee may state a claim for invasion of privacy where another has disclosed private information that is not of general interest to the public, and where such disclosure would be offensive to the reasonable person.
Thus many employers now have policies to only provide basic employment verification information about an employee, such as the duration of employment, position title, salary and rehire eligibility.
Employers desiring to give more information about an employee’s performance and qualifications may limit their potential liability if they do so based on verifiable facts. For example, if the employee received a promotion or was part of a disciplinary proceeding, the employer may provide this verifiable information so long as they have evidence, such as personnel records.