Employers Employment Record Disclosure Act
How does an employer know the value of the references or past employment information given by a job applicant? A new law enacted in the State of Illinois addresses this very issue.
On June 13, 1996 the Employment Record Disclosure Act ("Act") came into effect. The main thrust of this Act is to allow employers to disclose truthful information regarding the performance of former employees.
Prior to the enactment of this act, employers were and justly so, reluctant to disclose anything other than the name of the employee, the fact that the employee was employed by the company and the time period in which the person was employed. Such reluctance was understandable given the employer’s fear of inaccurate information resulting in actions for libel or slander, interference in a contractual relationship concerning a new business or lost contract opportunity by the former employee.
Under the terms of the Act, there is protection for the former employer that in good faith provides information that he/she believes to be truthfully written and/or orally communicated.
Employers still should exercise caution. In the event the former employee can demonstrate that the information was knowingly false or in some way violated a civil right of the employee, the good faith presumption may be subject to rebuttal, and the case could then proceed to trial on the issues.
Employers should be certain that all information provided is job related and is completely truthful. Employers are further cautioned to make certain that all employee related inquiries are directed to the proper party, such as a human resources professional.
Additionally, in all cases it is best to require all inquiries be made in writing. Finally, all responses issued by the employer should be sent back in writing, with no verbal embellishments to the response.