Employment blacklisting sounds like something that only happens in movies. The reality is, thousands of employees experience difficulty acquiring new jobs because their old employers purposefully interfere with their employment prospects in a variety of ways. While it is possible to sue your previous employer for damages related to its blacklisting activities, here are three challenges you may encounter in your case.
Proving Blacklisting Occurred
The most challenging aspect of this kind of case is proving your employer is actively sabotaging your efforts to get a new job. This can be difficult for a number of reasons. First, it may be awhile before you realize anything is amiss, particularly if you're looking for work in a tough job market or your industry is particularly competitive.
However, if you seem to ace the interview time after time but the hiring managers decline to hire you, then your former boss may be badmouthing you whenever people call to confirm your previous employment. You can confirm this by having a neutral third-party (e.g. a reference checking company) pretend to be a prospective employer and record what's said about you. If the company makes untrue or embellished statements about your desirability as an employee, you can use that to help your case.
A second issue is proving the poor reference was the reason prospective employers declined to hire you. It's one thing to have an ex-boss speak badly about you to a hiring manager. However, if your ex-boss' review didn't factor into the potential employer's decision not to hire you, then you will have difficulty winning damages.
You can ask former employers the reason why they declined to hire you, but you may have a hard time getting a straight answer if the company suspects it may be pulled into a lawsuit. Whichever way you go about getting confirmation, be sure to get the information in writing or record the phone call so you have indisputable proof of wrongdoing.
Ensuring the Law is on Your Side
A second issue you may encounter when attempting to sue your former employer is that your state may not have laws on the books that deal specifically with blacklisting. Interestingly enough, only about 29 states have protections preventing employers from engaging in this type of behavior, and you can use those laws to provide a basis for your lawsuit. If your state doesn't have blacklisting laws, then you'll need to use a different tort to sue, which will require a different level of proof you may or may not be able to attain.
For example, in a state with no blacklisting laws, you may have to sue for defamation of character. To prevail in this type of case, you would have to show your previous employer made false statements that harmed your reputation. If what your ex-boss tells future employers is technically true, you may have a hard time winning the case.
It's best to consult with an attorney who can help you decide which law to use to sue and the type of evidence you'll need to prove your case.
A third issue you'll need to contend with is proving your damages, which can be problematic if you're trying to sue for future lost income. It's very easy to determine the cost of lost past opportunities by calculating the income you would have earned at the jobs you were turned down for.
However, blacklisting can have a long-term effect on your employment prospects if you're working in a small industry where everyone knows each other. Determining future lost income may involve hiring vocational experts who can help figure out how long the effect of the blacklisting will have on your life and to what extent, which you can then use to decide how much money you're entitled to.
For help with your personal injury case, contact an attorney.