Blacklisted After a Job Loss

Find out about the state laws that prohibit blacklisting -- and how to tell if you're a victim.

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As archaic and barbaric as it may seem, there are still some companies, labor unions, and people working within them that are not content to merely fire you or force you out of your job. They seem unwilling to rest until they have prevented you from ever finding work again.

In response to this ongoing practice, some states have laws that expressly allow former employees to take legal action—criminal, civil, or both—against those who actively sabotage their efforts to secure new employment. (See the chart below for state blacklisting laws.)

Although, in many cases, you could sue for defamation instead, the advantage of using the blacklisting statute is that you do not have to prove that you suffered actual harm (such as being denied a job) because of the blacklisting.  

Detecting Blacklisting

The mere fact that you have to work hard to find a new job usually isn't enough to prove blacklisting, especially in the current economic climate. But a strong signal of possible blacklisting at work would be a series of situations in which potential new employers seem to be on the verge of hiring you, then suddenly lose interest. This indicates that, when a prospective employer checks your references just before hiring you, the blacklister is tipped off to where you have applied for work and is able to ding you.

State Laws on Blacklisting

The chart below is a synopsis of state laws prohibiting blacklisting. Note that these laws define blacklisting in varying ways. Some prohibit employers from maintaining an actual blacklist, some prohibit employers from making false statements about an employee, and some simply prohibit employers from using any means to prevent an employee from finding a job.

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CAUTION

Additional laws may apply. If the chart below does not list your state, this means there is no law that specifically addresses the issue. However, there may be a state administrative regulation or local ordinance that does control blacklisting. Call your state labor department for more information. 

State Blacklisting Laws

State and Statute

Employer actions prohibited (if intended to prevent a former employee from obtaining other employment)

Alabama

Ala. Code §§ 13A-11-123

Maintaining a blacklist.

Notifying others that an employee has been blacklisted.

Using any other similar means to prevent a person from obtaining employment.

Arizona

Ariz. Rev. Stat. Ann.

§§ 23-1361 to 23-1362

The knowing exchange, solicitation, or gift of a blacklist.

A blacklist is any understanding or agreement that communicates a name, or list of names, or descriptions between two or more employers, supervisors, or managers in order to prevent an employee from engaging in a useful occupation.

A blacklist can be spoken, written, printed, or implied.

Arkansas

Ark. Code Ann. § 11-3-202

Writing, printing, publishing, or circulating false statements in order to get someone fired or prevent someone from obtaining employment.

Publishing that someone is a member of a secret organization in order to prevent that person from securing employment.

California

Cal. Lab. Code §§ 1050 to 1053

Preventing or attempting to prevent former employee from getting work through misrepresentation.

Knowingly permitting or failing to take reasonable steps to prevent blacklisting.

In a statement about why an employee was discharged or left employment, implying something other than what is explicitly said, or providing information that was not requested.

Colorado

Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 8-2-110 to 8-2-114

Publishing or maintaining a blacklist. Conspiring or contriving to prevent a discharged employee from securing other employment.

Notifying another employer that a former employee has been blacklisted.

Any employer that provides written information to a prospective employer about a current or former employee, shall, upon that employee’s request, send a copy to the employee’s last known address. The subject of such a reference may also obtain a copy by appearing at the employer or former employer’s place of business during normal business hours.

Connecticut

Conn. Gen. Stat. Ann. § 31-51

Blacklisting, publishing, or causing to be published the name of any employee with the intent and for the purpose of preventing that person’s engaging in or securing other employment.

Conspiring or contriving to prevent an employee from procuring other employment.

Florida

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 448.045

Agreeing or conspiring with another person or persons in order to get someone fired or prevent someone from obtaining employment.

Making threats, whether verbal, written, or in print, against the life, property, or business of another in order to get someone fired or prevent the procurement of work.

Hawaii

Haw. Rev. Stat. § 377-6(11)

Making, circulating, or causing the circulation of a blacklist.

Idaho

Idaho Code § 44-201

Maintaining a blacklist.

Notifying another employer that a current or former employee has been blacklisted.

Indiana

Ind. Code Ann. § 22-5-3-1

Using any means to prevent a discharged employee from obtaining employment.

Upon written request, prospective employers shall provide job applicant with copies of any written communication from the applicant’s current or former employers that may affect the possibility of employment.

Iowa

Iowa Code §§ 730.1 to 730.3

Preventing or trying to prevent, either verbally or in writing, a discharged employee from obtaining other employment.

Authorizing or permitting blacklisting.

Making false statements about an employee’s honesty.

If a company, partnership, or corporation authorizes or allows blacklisting of a former employee, it shall be liable for treble damages.

Kansas

Kan. Stat. Ann. §§ 44-117 to 44-119

Using words, signs, or any kind of writing to prevent or attempt to prevent a discharged employee from obtaining other employment.

Any person, firm, or corporation found guilty of blacklisting shall be liable to the injured employee for treble damages and attorney’s fees.

Maine

Me. Rev. Stat. Ann. title 17, § 401

Maintaining or being party to a blacklist, either alone or in combination with others.

Preventing or attempting to prevent an employee from entering, leaving, or remaining in employment by threats of injury, intimidation, or force.

Preventing or attempting to prevent anyone from obtaining employment by means of a blacklist.

Any person who violates this law can be found guilty regardless of whether he or she intended to cause the employee harm.

Massachusetts

Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149 § 19

Using intimidation or force to prevent or attempt to prevent someone from obtaining or continuing in employment.

Minnesota

Minn. Stat. Ann. § 179.60

Combining or conferring with another or other employers to interfere with or prevent a person from obtaining employment.

Using threats, promises, blacklists, or any other means to get someone fired.

Blacklisting any discharged employee.

Verbally or in writing attempting to prevent a former employee from obtaining employment elsewhere.

Montana

Mont. Code Ann. §§ 39-2-801 to 39-2-804

Refusing to respond to a former employee’s demand for a written statement of the reasons for discharge while providing a statement of those reasons to any other person.

Blacklisting by word or writing of any kind, or authorizing or allowing a company’s agents to blacklist.

Attempting, by written, verbal, or any other means, to prevent a discharged or former employee from obtaining employment elsewhere.

Nevada

Nev. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 613.210

For an employer or employer’s representative: Blacklisting or causing any employee to be blacklisted; publishing any employee’s name or causing it to be published with the intent to prevent that person from getting work.

Conspiring or contriving in any manner to prevent discharged employee from procuring other work.

New Mexico

N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-13-3

For an employer or employer’s agent: Preventing or attempting to prevent a former employee from obtaining other employment.

New York

N.Y. Labor Law § 704(2) and (9)

Making, maintaining, distributing, or circulating a blacklist to prevent an employee from obtaining or continuing employment because employee exercised rights to organize, unionize, or bargain collectively.

Informing any person of an individual’s membership in a labor organization or exercise of protected labor rights in order to prevent them from obtaining or retaining employment.

North Carolina

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-355

Preventing or attempting to prevent, by word or writing of any kind, a discharged employee from obtaining other employment.

North Dakota

N.D. Cent. Code § 34-01-06

Maliciously interfering or in any way hindering a person from obtaining or continuing other employment.

Oklahoma

Okla. Stat. Ann. tit. 40, § 172

Blacklisting or causing an employee to be blacklisted.

Publishing or causing employee’s name to be published with the intent to prevent the employee from getting work.

Requiring employee to write a letter of resignation with the intent to prevent or hinder other employment.

Oregon

Or. Rev. Stat. § 659.805

Blacklisting or causing any discharged employee to be blacklisted; publishing or causing the name of any discharged employee to be published with the intent to prevent the employee from getting or keeping work.

Conspiring or scheming by correspondence, or by any other means, to prevent a discharged employee from obtaining employment.

Rhode Island

R.I. Gen. Laws § 28-7-13(2)

Making, maintaining, distributing, or circulating a blacklist to prevent an employee from obtaining or continuing in employment because employee exercised rights to organize, unionize, or bargain collectively.

Informing any person of an individual’s membership in a labor organization or exercise of protected labor rights in order to prevent them from obtaining or retaining employment.

Texas

Tex. Civ. Stat. Ann. Art. 5196(1) to (4)

Tex. Lab. Code Ann. § 52.031

Blacklisting or causing to be blacklisted.

Preventing or attempting to prevent by word, printing, sign, list, or other means, directly or indirectly, a former employee from obtaining other work.

Communicating, directly or indirectly, information about an applicant without giving the applicant a copy of the communication, and the names and addresses of those to whom it was made, within ten days of demand.

Receiving a request, notice, or communication preventing, or calculated to prevent, the employment of an applicant without giving a copy of the communication to the applicant, and the names and addresses of those to whom it was made, within ten days of demand.

Utah

Utah Code Ann. §§ 34-24-1 to 34-24-2

Utah Const. Art. 12, § 19; Art. 16, § 4

Blacklisting or causing any former employee to be blacklisted, or publishing or causing the name of any former employee to be published, with the intent or purpose of preventing the employee from obtaining or retaining similar employment.

Exchanging blacklists with or among railroads, corporations, associations, or persons.

Maliciously interfering with any person’s obtaining or continuing in employment with another employer.

Virginia

Va. Code Ann. § 40.1-27

Willfully and maliciously preventing or attempting to prevent, verbally or in writing, directly or indirectly, a former employee from obtaining other employment.

Washington

Wash. Rev. Code Ann. § 49.44.010

Willfully and maliciously sending, delivering, making, or causing to be made, any document, signed, unsigned, or signed with a fictitious name, mark, or other sign; publishing or causing to be published any statement, in order to prevent someone from obtaining employment in Washington or elsewhere.

Willfully and maliciously blacklisting or causing a person to be blacklisted, by writing, printing, or publishing their name, or mark or sign representing their name, in a paper, pamphlet, circular, or book, along with a statement about that person for the purpose of preventing employment.

Willfully and maliciously publishing or causing to be published that a person is a member of a secret organization in order to prevent them from obtaining employment.

Willfully and maliciously making or issuing any statement or paper in order to influence or prejudice the mind of an employer against a person seeking employment, or to cause someone to be discharged.

Wisconsin

Wis. Stat. Ann. § 134.02

Any two or more employers joining together to:

• prevent any person seeking employment from obtaining employment

• cause the discharge of an employee by threats, promises, circulating blacklists, or causing blacklists to be circulated

• prevent or attempt to prevent, by blacklist or any other means, a former employee from obtaining other employment

• authorize or allow any of their agents to blacklist a former employee.

Giving any statement of the reasons for an employee’s discharge with the intent to blacklist, hinder, or prevent the discharged employee from obtaining other work.

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