Defamation of Character by job reference

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On March 3rd, 2008 I applied for a position for a teacher at a daycare facility. I had my interview on March 4th and was offered the position on March 6th. I was going to be out of state for a few days and was to call them when I got back on March 11th to set up a time to start my employment. On my way home on March 11th I received a phone call from the girl that interviewed me stating that she would have to withdraw my offer of employment based on a "really bad" reference. I was FLOORED to say the least. I knew I was pushing my luck when I asked who it was from and what was said. She told me that should couldn't divulge that information. I then stated that it was illegal for a former employer to state anything other than if I worked for them, the dates of my employment, and if I was rehire-able or not. She then proceeded to tell me that it was not a former employer but one of my own personal references that I had listed on my resume. I was SHOCKED!! I said "you have got to be kidding me" and immediately started crying. She then told me that they told her I had a "problem with medication" but refused to tell me who it was. I immediately told her that yes, I am on medication for Fibromyalgia, and chronic back pain, but do not have a "problem" with medication and offered to take a drug test and offered her access to all my medical records. I also explained to her that they type of medication I am taking would not interfere with my care of children and could get verification from my doctor stating so. She said she would talk to her boss and get back to me. This was on March 11th and today is the 15th and I still have not heard back from her and I am sure I won't. I have been unemployed since October of 2007 and have almost completely exhausted all my employment leads in my town and am afraid I am going to have to resort to moving back to my home state to get a job. There were rumors going around my former workplace that I was addicted to narcotic painkillers. It was a very small office and I know who started that rumor and I do not speak to that person. She started that rumor after she found out I was prescribed them and asked me for some and I turned her down. Can I legally find out who it was that said this defaming and slanderous remark and cost me money and insurance benefits? I have used some of these references on past resumes and some only since October. I have posted my resume all over the Internet and have applied for jobs that I KNOW I should have gotten hired for and am wondering if this was the first time this had been said about me. I can't even get a job at a gas station, that is how bad this has become. This is costing me dearly, both financially and emotionally as it is preventing me from sleeping and has made me physically ill. I had to pull over on my way home and throw up I was so upset. I have in a round about way asked everyone on my reference list if they received a phone call and they have all denied it with the exception of my sister. What I said to them was that I got hired and wanted to thank everyone that gave me a reference. Their reply was that they didn't receive any type of phone call. I know they are lying, I just don't know who. My problem is I can pull my resume offline but the damage has already been done and I feel I have been black listed in this community. Not only do I want to know who it was so I can never use them for a reference again but to get them out of my life and never associate with them again. I have 7 people on my resume and only one is the culprit. I don't have many friends as it is and want to keep all I can but with a friend like this, who needs enemies? Can you please advise me as what to do?

Thank you

First off your legal assumption was wrong. An employer is not bound by any law to only give the information you assumed they could give. They may say anything truthful or they believe truthful. There is also no law that would force the potential employer to divulge the source of bad reference. What you should now is change all your personal references. Do not get me wrong what happened to you was awful and unfair it just wasnt unlawful.
I found out that it was NOT a former employer and since the information is totally not true can I not pursue defamation of character or slander? What type of attorney do I contact?
I guess I must be ignorant of the definition of defamation of character and/or slander....I really appreciate your comments :)
You were clearly wronged problem is you do not know by who. Sueing this person has its problems as well. Do any of the people on this list have money? If not how do you squeeze blood from a turnip? You will have Lawyer's fees if they do not take case on contingency. I am guessing they wont since there is no guarantee of pay from persons with little or no money
I was hoping that I might get away them divulging the person by having an attorney send them a letter. (intimidation?)lol I really do not wish to sue any one. I just want to know who and why, to be quite honest. I thought very highly of everyone on my reference list and considered them good friends. Obviously one of them isn't. I want to sever all ties with whom ever it was that did this to me.
So your willing to spend several hundred (maybe a thousand) dollars to find your mole? I think your time and money could have better focus
First of all I don't know how much it would cost for an attorney to send a letter, if they would at all. No, I don't have that kind of money. Nor do I want to alienate 7 people when only 1 is the mole. I was even considering writing a letter to all of them myself hoping to "smoke" out the one and if that didn't work possibly dropping it...I am not quite sure yet. One attorney just emailed me and said that I could file and begin discovery and just not serve them on the one that I "think" might have done it and if they fess up during discovery then change the filing to the correct person and go about it on my own in small claims court...not sure yet still weighing my options. Thank you very much for playing "devil's advocate" for me :)
I'm sorry to hear about your situation, truly. I'll answer what I can.

You can sue anyone you want if you believe that you have a legitimate claim. The problem is that unless it is clearly a false statement that was shared and was damaging you're going to have a devil of a time proving your case. Perhaps this person really believed that you have a bit of a problem with your medication - I'm not saying it's true. It's a matter of opinion and not clearly "false" - it's gray, not black and white. Worst of all, you don't know what was said.

Next challenge is to find out who said it. The company is under no obligation to provide you with the information as to who made these comments. You can't get a subpoena until you have a party to sue and this is the challenge here - we don't know whom it is.

My free advice here? Think about whom it could be and innocuously meet them face to face. Most people aren't great liars. Narrow down your list to whom would know the information that you now know was shared. Use the other people as future references. I don't know why you had 7 references but that is another reason why they should be furnished upon request. Provide 1 or 2 and, if the employee is interested, they can get more.

With regard to your case... well... as you can see from the above, for now your best bet is figuring out who your friends are and who they aren't. I wish you the best of luck but this is the best I can tell you right now.
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