Boss Doesn’t Want Me To Take Better Job!

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a boss who insists I shouldn’t leave:

Although my passion is catering, I have found it necessary to take a position in a small dress shop for the past 8 months to make ends meet. I have now been offered a fantastic job in my chosen field at over twice the salary. I should be overjoyed, however, when I told my current employer that I would be leaving (I gave a two-week notice even though the catering job would like me to start much sooner) my employer became very angry and is threatening to phone my new employer and tell him that if I leave he will have to close the dress shop. She could hire someone else, but just doesn’t want to. What is the best way to handle this situation? I’m afraid I will lose the catering offer or at least start the new job with a cloud hanging over me. Thank you.


New Job Dark Cloud


Dear New Job Dark Cloud:

Congratulations! I assume that you are not under contract with your current employer for a year or forever. So stop worrying. If she takes your leaving spitefully, that is to her shame. She really cannot blacken your name especially if she were to call you new employer to say she does not want you to leave her employment. Moreover, employers can hire and fire with reason or no reason and employees can quit for no reason so long as they are not under contract for a longer period. This is called the at will doctrine, and it is in effect for most small employers and in many states this rule applies to larger employers. You probably cannot do much to minimize the disappointment of your dressmaker boss nor can you stop her from badmouthing you to your new employer. Owners of small workplaces have few legal restrictions on them. Employers of larger organizations are reluctant to say anything about employees even when asked for references because they fear a suit for saying anything bad or especially good. For example, if they implied that the employee was emotionally unstable, they could be sued. Also if they reported the employee was honest when they knew she had cheated and then did so for the next employer, they also could be liable. So most employers, when asked about an employee by a prospective employer, do little more than to report that an employee worked for them over a certain length of time.In your case, you might forewarn your new employer that your current dressmaker employer is so disappointed and angry that you are leaving that she threatened to call to say that you are leaving her in the lurch and consequently declares this will force her to close her shop. This should immunize your new employer from what may be said. It is probably overkill to put your notice of leaving in writing and send it with a registered letter to prove that you have given sufficient notice.Also, you might tell your current employer that you think such a threat is mean-spirited and you don’t think this is the kind of person that she really is in her heart. And you might try to help her understand the reasons this is an opportunity you can not pass by–it pays better and is really the kind of work you have longed to do. You might ask her what she would do if she were in your shoes. And you can warn her to refrain from badmouthing you as irresponsible for leaving or anything else. Tell her such acts of an employer are the kind of thing that are against the law and that if she smears you, you will consult an attorney. Frankly, seeking the aid of an attorney would be of little benefit to you, but you might consult an attorney right now to learn if she/he has any advice for you. Many attorneys will give you a half hour free consultation.So again congratulations. Don’t allow this threat to rain on your parade.Hopefully your new workplace will be one in which you soon earn the trust of your new employer and can work collaboratively to please those with whom you work and your customers. Think WEGO and be cheerful.

William Gorden