Q: Do I have recourse if a former employer implies I was fired for cause when, in fact, I resigned with no issues?
I recently went through a background check as part of an application process for a job. Although the check indicated I was eligible for rehire by a former employer, I noticed that they listed my reason for leaving as “Against Company Policy.” I gave them four weeks notice as required in the employee handbook and they even threw me a party. I was not formally or informally reprimanded at any time during the 8.5 years I worked there. I know the boss was annoyed that I was leaving when I did, but I was the first in a fairly significant exodus in response to this new boss (who was asked to leave 3 years into a 5 year contract). I am offended and dismayed that my 8+ year history with an otherwise great institution is sullied by this notation on my record. I was never informed that I had violated policy and did everything possible to ensure I didn’t violate policy in exiting the position. What recourse do I have? Do I have a right to see my own employee file?
I am sorry to hear that you're experiencing this, especially after working so hard to maintain a good record with your former employer. There seems to be a lot of confusion about what constitutes a policy violation and the proper way to handle it, especially for an employee who is leaving.
In theory, you are likely entitled to review your file, particularly parts that you believe are inaccurate. (There are some nuances. But without more information, an attorney could only speculate on your specific rights.) In reality, it is sometimes difficult to get former employers to cooperate.
If you are unable to get your former employer to clarify what policy you allegedly violated (and correct obvious inaccuracies), you may want to seek some assistance from an attorney or the Department of Labor. It probably wouldn't hurt to at least consult with a knowledgeable attorney before contacting your former employer or the Department of Labor.
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