Employment verification: Requirement or courtesy?

Question: 

I applied for a new job and my new employer is requiring employment verification from my previous employers before I can start. One of my previous employers won't provide it (we had a disagreement which led to me leaving). Is there anything I can do legally or otherwise to require that he completes the form?

resume references employment
Answer: 

Employment verification forms are fairly common in the industry—a way for an employer to verify claims made on the resume of a prospective employee. For the most part, these are a courtesy: There is no legal requirement for an employer to complete them, but I think the golden rule applies—you would expect former employers of your employees to fill out the form, so why not do others the same courtesy? In rare instances such as a government background check, your participation may be more forcefully required.

In this case, your new employer is requiring the form for you to be able to work and your former employer is refusing to complete the form, so you are at an impasse. To answer your question directly—no, it doesn’t seem that there is any way you can require that your former employer complete the form and the legal expenses to try to do so would be ridiculous. Our legal friends at Avvo.com were gracious enough to post this question to some attorneys to confirm that, “Yes, the employer can refuse as there is no law that requires an employer to verify your employment.”

From a practical perspective, however, there are other ways you can show your employment history, including W2 forms or pay stubs/direct deposit advice. If your new employer will not accept that alternate documentation, it may not be the kind of workplace you enjoy!

Municipalities are increasingly putting restrictions on asking about past employment history, specifically wage history, in hopes of combatting gender- and race-based pay disparity, so this is somewhat of a changing landscape. For operators, it is best to consult with your restaurant association and attorney to develop a clear policy for how you respond to employment verification requests, from whom, and what questions you are comfortable answering. It is also a good practice to have the employee agree as part of onboarding paperwork and the employee manual that they understand and agree that you may be responding to future requests.

More on verifying employment history here

Want to ask advice guy a question?

Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.

Today's top stories

1
For many limited-service spots, vegetarian options consist of regular menu items minus the meat: for example, a salad without the chicken, or a saucy pasta dish, hold the sausage. That omission can...
2
Today’s diners are more conscious than ever about the foods they eat—what they’re made of, but more importantly, what they’re not made of. Consumers are interested in, and in some cases, will pay...
3
In today’s rigid labor market, restaurant operators have made headlines launching education benefits , referral bonuses , competitive wages and career development programs to attract workers and coax...
4
Like any kitchen tool, a protective glove is only as good as the skills of the person using it. I know chefs who swear by cut-resistant gloves and others who do not allow them in their kitchens,...
5
Although consumers’ moves toward better-for-you menu items continues to influence operators today, fried foods remain universally popular choices for restaurantgoers. With 84.5% of all operators...
6
After boasting for years that America runs on Dunkin’ , the franchise powerhouse is fundamentally changing to keep up. A menu that reverses years of pushing beyond doughnuts will be in place within...
7
A shutdown of all the Joe’s Crab Shacks in Michigan has raised the tally of units closed by bankrupt operator Ignite Restaurant Group to more than 40, from a base of 113 stores, according to internet...
8
The portion of restaurants’ sales coming from delivery could top 40% by 2020, roughly a sevenfold increase from current levels, according to a recent study from Morgan Stanley. Demand for off-premise...
9
As LSRs battle it out at breakfast, they’re pulling no punches when it comes to innovation. Taco Bell’s Naked Breakfast Taco spring LTO used a fried egg as a “shell” to hold diced potatoes, cheese...
10
The Fast staff took a break from putting this issue to bed for our Restaurant Trends & Directions conference . One of the keynoters was Jonah Berger, author of “Contagious” and “Invisible...