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How can a nurse learn about negative information given out by a previous employer?

Dear Nancy,

I have an unusual heart condition which at times limits my abilities. I was on FMLA and fired from a job I held for seven years related to attendance issues. I had always received very good evaluations before this. Subsequently, I had numerous positive interviews, during which I fully disclosed the illness and its implications. I received numerous job offers, each of which was revoked when they checked my past employers. In one instance with a potential employer, I even took a physical and got a parking pass. HR called on a Friday to tell me that they had to withdraw the offer of employment. She was very vague and evasive but told me in essence to call my previous employers and check whether I was eligible for rehire. I called them all and was told yes, except for my most recent employer. In the meantime, I hired on at a previous employer after four months of unemployment. What can I do to find out what the negative information is and prevent it from being spread to potential employers?



Dear Andrew,

Apparently something negative is being said about you by one or more of your former employers. It is hoped that despite your unusual heart condition, the former employers would not use the information to prevent you from obtaining a new job. Indeed, discriminating against a person who has a disability under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and who is qualified to perform the essential job functions, is prohibited. Likewise, exercising your right to take a leave under the FMLA should not be used to prevent future employment.

You will probably never know exactly what your former employers told potential employers where you applied for a job and were denied. People have selective amnesia about what was said and how one responded in most situations, but especially so when there is a potential for any legal action.

However, you may be able to get copies of your personnel records if your state has a statute that allows employees or former employees the right to get such copies. Many times there is a set time frame within the statute for such access. Consult with a nurse attorney or attorney in your state who can provide you with the specifics of the law in your state, if one exists.

If you are able to obtain copies of any of your former employment records, there is usually some form used by a facility when an employee is terminated or otherwise leaves employment. It often contains the question of whether the employee would be rehired or not. If one of your forms states the employer would not re-hire you, this may be the reason for your difficulty in getting a new job.

Know that a reason for not rehiring is usually not required on the form, so one must review any documentation on the form about the end of employment, such as a violation of a policy, diverting narcotics, or other such information, that may be the basis of the no-rehire status.


By | 2015-09-22T13:46:29-04:00 September 28th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|1 Comment

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

One Comment

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    Carol Collins October 5, 2015 at 9:16 pm - Reply

    Re; Video Cameras in workplace. What about the HIPPA law? Patients may be in transport, or walking the hall, or being addressed by a member of the ancillary team. All of this, plus images of visitors, could be hacked and put to ill an undercover officer could be the victim of a GSW and that officer or any of his/her undercover work associates could be discovered. I have taken care of a few pts., who for various reasons, during hospitalization, had to remain unknown. Cameras could create a risk potential in each of these instances, let alone the potential for litigation.

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