It is no doubt a traumatic experience to get fired from your job. Besides the loss of income, you also have to deal with other repercussions, such as loss of self-confidence and also loss of reputation.
What’s worse, once you start looking for a new position, questions such as “Does getting fired go on your background check?” and “Can employers verify termination?” may become a constant worry.
So, does getting fired go on your record? The answer is, yes, the fact that you got fired will be added to your private employment record. To find out the answer to “Does getting fired ruin your career?”, read on.
What Is an Employee Record?
An employee record or file is a set of documents that an employer keeps for each employee. While not all companies keep employee files, many companies do, especially larger organizations. Objective information added to the file typically includes the following:
- Employee’s full name
- Job title
- Employment start and end dates
- Social Security number
- Medical information
- Original job application
- Work authorization forms
- W-2 forms
In addition, a company can also add subjective information, such as performance reviews, disciplinary hearings, and any grievances that may have been filed against you by coworkers, suppliers, or customers.
Does Getting Fired Go on Your Record?
Unfortunately, in the event that you get fired, this information will be added to your personal employee file. But can a company find out that you were fired?
Since former employers are typically afraid of lawsuits, they will only divulge the most necessary information regarding your employment history, such as the start and end dates of your employment. It is rare that a former HR department will willingly share negative information, such as that you were fired.
Also, while federal laws don’t prohibit former employers from sharing this type of information with potential new employers, state laws on this issue vary from state to state. You should, therefore, check out what the laws in your state are regarding the sharing of employee information.
If you’re wondering, “How long does a termination stay on your record?” the answer is for as long as the employee record exists. Fortunately, businesses are legally obliged to keep employee records for only one year. Since companies do not want to open themselves up to potential lawsuits, most do actually do away with such records after one year.
How Can You Protect Yourself?
Firstly, it is always a good idea to know what information has been added to your employee file. For this reason, you should request to see your file. In most instances, you’ll probably be allowed to view your file. However, specifics regarding the right of employees to access their own files differ from state to state.
If you do gain access to your file, you should double-check that the information is correct and up-to-date. When it comes to disciplinary hearings, grievances against you, and also getting fired, you should ensure that any rebuttals you may have instigated are included in the file.
To protect yourself, you can instruct an HR team to share only specific information with potential employers when they call in the future. While they are under no obligation to honor your request, they may choose to do so, especially if you put your request in writing and sign the document. Honoring your request will reduce the liability the company has when sharing your information.
That said, a potential employer can find out that you were fired if, for instance, they have a casual conversation with your previous manager or director. Also, smaller companies that do not have the relevant company policies in place, may act with less discretion when it comes to sharing negative information regarding previous employees.
What Is a Background Check?
It’s important that you understand that there’s a difference between a personal employee record and an employment background check. You already know what a personal employee record is, so I will now explain the latter. A background check is normally conducted by a background check screener or agency.
It’s a bit tricky to know which information will be revealed about you during a background check since these checks pull public data from a variety of sources. This means that two background checks can provide different information. In general, however, a background check will show the following:
- Your personal identity: A new employer will obviously want to verify that you actually are who you say you are. A background check compares the information you gave about yourself to what comes up in public databases.
- Criminal records: Most potential employers require information regarding a possible criminal record when checking out job candidates. A background check supplies this type of information, including whether you’ve been arrested in the past. Information regarding criminal offenses is particularly relevant for jobs that involve children, the law, or finances.
- Driver’s history: Some background checks may also supply information regarding your driver’s history, which will include any previous violations or penalties. If your potential job, for instance, involves a lot of driving or the operation of heavy machinery, the employer may want to see this type of information about you.
- Credit history: A background check may also provide details regarding your credit history. Especially if your new job involves working with money, a potential employer may want reassurance that your conduct with regard to the handling of credit has been good.
Does Termination Show Up in a Background Check?
While a background check reveals a lot of personal information about you, it, fortunately, does not provide information regarding your employment history.
A background check does not access databases regarding previous jobs you’ve had over the years. Details regarding a person’s education or employment are not part of the public record.
This means that a potential employer cannot access your employment history without physically contacting your previous employer for employment verification.
However, a company can request that a background agency verifies your employment details with previous employers. This means that the agency in question will reach out to the companies you listed in your resume to verify information, such as start and end dates and position held.
Other Ways In Which Employers Can Verify Termination
So, how would a company know if you got fired from a job? In short, a prospective employer doesn’t have easy access to your employment history. As stated before, they will have to contact your previous employer if they wish to find out details regarding your previous employment.
As I have also stated before, the HR team of your previous company will in most cases not divulge any information regarding your tenure at the company that is negative. Doing so can be dangerous for any company since it can lead to lawsuits.
An HR team will typically share objective information regarding your employment, such as the period you worked there and what your job title was.
They will usually not share any information regarding your salary, medical history, or any instances of misconduct during the period of your employment.
However, if a potential employer reaches out to your manager or former coworkers using informal channels, they may learn that you were fired from your job.
In general, however, companies will not go to such lengths to find out about your past. While they may do a background check, and may also contact your previous HR team to verify the information you supplied on your CV regarding employment dates and positions held, it is unlikely that they will start calling managers and staff to dig deeper into your employment history.
Will Getting Fired Ruin My Career?
As you can gather from the information I’ve supplied above, getting fired will in most cases not ruin your career. Companies are not likely to launch a full-on investigation regarding the employment history of potential employees.
In the event that they are suspicious regarding the truth of the information a candidate has supplied on their resume, or have other reasons to be suspicious of a potential employee, they will probably decide on an alternative candidate before launching an investigation.