Former Employer Ruining My Good Name

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about former employer: It’s management is defaming me to current employee’s I once supervised.

I resigned from a position I held for three years on Sept 31, 2011 due to on-going workplace bullying by my Manager. IF I had known then what I know now, the circumstances could’ve been completely different. Now, after resigning from a position I loved, I am finding that the management is defaming me to current employee’s I once supervised. This information is getting back to perspective contractors that I am seeking for employment with and as well as to grow a personal business. I realize the economy is suffering and finding employment is difficult, but this ‘gossip’ is affecting my abilities to make a living. What recourse is available to me today? Thank you.

Signed, Slandered By Former Employer

Dear Slandered By Former Employer:

According to the proof you have and the type of gossip about you, you may have a civil or legal situation. Consider talking to an attorney who will provide a free consultation to find out where you stand.There is a fine line between gossip and purposeful slander, but there is a line and it’s difficult to prove that someone means to prevent your employment.

Your former managers may say negative things to employees, but unless they tell them to spread the word to your potential employers, it isn’t really their fault what the employees say in a casual conversation. Further, it’s difficult to prove just what has been said about you, unless a potential employer tells you and says that is why he’s not hiring you. I don’t think that will happen.

However, it could be that an attorney would suggest some remedy or response. If so, it might be well worth the money to get his or her assistance for the short term.You might also want to consider some of the following:

1. If you have performance evaluations from your former employer, include copies with your resume or have them readily available all the time, as a reference and to show how you were viewed there. (Assuming they were positive.) If you don’t have them you may be able to get copies from HR or a similar function at your former employment. Even if you left with bad feelings it may be that the person responsible for maintaining the personnel records wouldn’t mind giving you copies. If you don’t have copies and they won’t provide you with them, and you did fairly well on your evaluations, refer to them in your resume or make a sheet of paper and head it with something like, Performance Evaluation Results At ACME Company. May be requested at (000) 123-4567.

Then, list the times you received evaluations and under that date, put the categories on which you were evaluated and what was said about you, in a general sense. You’re not trying to duplicate it, just simulate it and let them know they can ask for the real thing.

2. If there is anyone of any significant level at the former employment who would support you, ask them for a personal reference rather than a business one. That could mean just as much to a prospective employer, if the person’s title and employment are listed, even though it’s not on a letterhead or if the person can’t openly support you while at the office.

Ask that person to discuss key work traits but also refer to his or her personal knowledge of you (to keep that person out of trouble for giving you a reference.) (This sounds like a spy story!)

3. This next suggestion may not seem to be much help for squelching gossip and rumors, but perhaps you will find some of the ideas useful, as others have done. Do something so significant in this down-time, that it could offset anything being said.Among the things you might consider–or that could inspire your thinking about something even better:

*Join an organization related to your work and write something for their newsletter or magazine. Or, if they have conferences, go to those and participate. Mention not only the group but any activities you’ve done with them, on your resume. *Write some articles about your work and distribute them to those you know in that work area. Just give them away. Then, you can put that you are the author of “How To Plan For XYZ”. Or, whatever you might write about. Just a one or two page document would do it, but you might have much more.You mentioned that you’ve considered going in business for yourself. If that’s the case you very likely have a great deal of expertise that you could share in written format that you could put on your resume.

*Consider a blog or website (a free one like blog spot would work) in which you write about your trade, skill or profession. If you have photos or can take them someplace and use them to illustrate your point, so much the better.Think how it would look on a resume to have any of that to list, if it would work for your business or profession?*Volunteer to teach a class at an adult education class or trade school, about your business or skill area. That may not work for your business, but might be something you could do.*Collect more letters of reference than you think you need and make it look like you have an overwhelming number of those. If you have been employed anywhere other than the last place, maybe you can go back to there and get multiple letters. Don’t wait for them to be contacted, have the letters attached or ready to show.Or you could put, “Over thirty letters of reference available for review.”

*According to the nature of your work and your location, consider getting some interesting stories together and contacting someone who writes feature stories for a newspaper. Send them one or two interesting stories and say that you’ve available for an interview about your experiences. That’s a long shot I realize, but I recommended that to a woman who is a tree trimmer and that was a summer story for the newspaper. She included small reprints in her resume and it was interesting enough to a potential employer that she was hired as an office manager of a landscaping company.

4. Keep in mind that although you certainly wouldn’t like to have things said that implied your were a thief or that you did something very wrong, the fact that you’re portrayed as hard to work with or something else of that nature, may not have much impact on those who are seriously looking for someone with the knowledge or skills you possess.Apparently you work in a field in which there are interactions between companies in the same line of work. If you have left a positive impression somewhere, that will be known as well.Also, most employers are aware that when someone leaves a business there may be gossip and innuendo. It may not be considered valid input, since it isn’t official.

All that is to say that if you don’t get hired, it may not necessarily be because of those gossiping remarks. So, carefully consider every aspect of your interviewing and your resume, to make sure you’re presenting your best self.I can see why you are concerned and I hope you are able to show how effective you are to such an extent that the remarks of a few people can’t overcome the preponderance of good information in your resume and interviews. Best wishes to you about this. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.