An employee may be terminated or fired from an organization for several reasons. However, although the company may retain termination details in its private records, they are not made public.
Employees often feel insecure if they are fired from their jobs because it is natural to think that it will hurt their prospects later. This is especially true if they were fired due to misconduct or a breach of trust with the organization.
Although the employees often learn from their mistakes and are interested in making a fresh start, the reason behind their termination can often ruin their image. If the cause is known, other organizations become wary of hiring the employee.
However, the good news is that new employers cannot get this information so quickly unless they have very specific communication channels.
The reason for firing an employee does not enter the public records, and a background check does not reveal that information unless under particular circumstances.
Hence, if your prospective employer tells you that they will conduct a background check before hiring you, there is no reason to worry, even if you were fired from your previous job. They will not be able to avail this information efficiently.
Why Background Checks Do Not Reveal the Reason for Termination?
Regular background checks do not reveal the reason behind your termination unless the complaints against you were so severe that you were charged with a felony and were arrested. In that case, you will have a criminal record that will appear in your background check.
So the simple answer is no. Your background check will not reveal that you were fired under normal circumstances.
However, suppose your employer fired you for misconduct or a misdemeanor. In that case, the company may retain your records. Still, they will not be known to the general public because they will not enter the public database.
When a new employer conducts a background check, they will not have access to the private records of your previous company. A regular background check will thus include identity verification, credit history, driver’s history, and criminal records.
So unless you have done something that has jeopardized these aspects of your life, like you have failed to pay off a loan or caused an accident at some point, your new employer will know nothing about your reason for getting fired from your previous workplace.
On the other hand, if you were charged with theft, felony, embezzlement, sexual assault, or any other heinous crime in your workplace, and there were legal proceedings, it would go into your criminal record, and any future employer will find out about it by accessing public records.
Can Getting Fired Affect Your Career?
Getting fired does not spell doom for your career in any way. However, there are various factors you need to consider to understand how your professional life may be affected by getting fired.
1. Your Image May Be Affected
One thing that happens when getting fired can affect the employee’s image. Whether you were fired because of your fault or whether you were a victim of office politics, the perception about a fired employee changes somewhat.
However, suppose everyone believes you were wrongfully fired. In that case, you can garner immense support from your colleagues, and you will have no trouble finding another job again.
2. You Have to Prove You are Innocent
You must prove your innocence if you were wrongly accused and fired over false allegations. You might also have to file a lawsuit to win against your former employers.
All of this costs time and money, and you need to weigh whether you will move on and seek another job, concentrating on your career instead.
3. You Have to Prove Yourself All Over Again
If you are fired from a job, you have to have the mindset that you will have to prove yourself all over again and work harder than ever. Depending on whether the reason for your getting fired gets known by everyone, you have to prove yourself all over again.
4. You have to Make a New and Clean Record
You have to set things right, and you have to make a fresh start. You cannot let a single incident of being fired affect your career.
You can always start over. Move to another city if you have to and start afresh. Start with a clean slate, and the past will soon be forgotten unless there are criminal charges against you.
How Can Your New Employer Come to Know the Reason for Getting Fired?
Your new employer may only come to know of the reason for getting fired if they contact your employers from your previous organization. They may do so by formal means and directly call or email the HR team requesting the information.
Depending on the company policy of your previous organization, they may or may not reveal the reason to your new employer.
Some companies have strict policies regarding their employees’ privacy, and no matter how severe the reason was behind firing you, they would never reveal the reason to anyone else.
That is just for their records so that they can make an informed decision in case you apply to be rehired again. They could face a lawsuit if they reveal the information to your new employers.
Hence, knowing about your company policies when you get fired can put your mind at ease.
On the other hand, your new employer could come to know the reason behind your termination through informal means.
For example, considering people working in the same industry or sector often know each other through social circles, your new employer might informally know someone from your previous organization.
In such cases, someone could reveal why you were fired, but of the records. But no matter the channel, your new employer could come to know the actual reason.
Why Should You Always Be Truthful While Stating You were Fired?
When you are fired from an organization, it is natural that you will start looking for jobs again and have to face interviews. One of the questions that your new employers will ask you is why you chose to leave your previous organization and why you want to work for them instead.
While answering this question, you must mention that you did not quit yourself but were fired. And it would be best if you remained utterly truthful about it.
Considering you do not know whether your new employer will use formal or informal means to gather this information, you must never lie in the interview or downplay your part in getting fired.
Your former employer may refuse to give this information. It is also possible that the new employer will not dig any further and will choose to trust you. However, you do not know any of that, and you have to believe that your new employer will eventually find out why you were fired.
If you lie during the interview, even if you are spared at the moment, your image will be completely ruined when your employer finds out the truth. And they will believe that your former employers were completely justified in firing you.
On the other hand, if you speak the truth and take full responsibility for your actions, it will show that you are willing to learn from your mistakes. Your new employer will appreciate this quality and be ready to give you a chance.
Hence, full disclosure is critical if you do not want any awkwardness in your new job. If you are found lying, then you will be placed under scrutiny and will be under a lot of pressure. Your new employer will never be able to trust you, and you will only make things more difficult for yourself.
Is Your Former Employer Legally Prohibited to Say Why You Were Fired?
Unless the company policies dictate it or state laws prohibit divulgence, there is no rule that your former employer cannot reveal the cause of firing you to your new employer. While ethically, they may not be right in doing so, they are not legally bound not to reveal this information.
In fact, in cases where the employee has been charged with crimes like selling company secrets, embezzlement, or sexual misconduct, most employers will reveal this information to the new employers so that they can be on their guard against the person,
While the employees may want to turn over a new leaf, no one would know for sure unless some time had passed. The employer might think it is morally right to inform fellow bosses about the employee’s history.
Moreover, if the employee knows their new employer is aware of why they were fired from their previous jobs, they would be on their guard. They would think twice before repeating such mistakes.
On the other hand, an employer might not typically share the reason if it was misconduct and the employee did not follow the rules after repeated warnings.
They might share other information to ascertain whether the employee was truthful about further details like the date of joining, their designation, and their CTC.
They will also corroborate company records like social security, medical information, work authorization forms, and other details.
How Long Does a Termination Stay On the Record?
An employee’s termination does not stay on record for more than a year. Since many employers do not want to risk a lawsuit, they will retain employee information for about a year after termination and then most likely destroy it.
Only in very special circumstances would they retain the records for an extended period.
You can also request that HR not to reveal the information to your prospective employers in writing. While they are not obligated to honor this request, many of them would do so or would at least inform you about it. It depends on the organization.
However, if you were fired over a year ago, there is very little to worry about.
How Can an Employee Protect Oneself After Being Fired?
Even after an employee is fired, they can still ask to see their employee file, and HR will keep this request. Or else, they might be forced to do so if they get a legal notice and no one wants that.
You can also go through the state laws to determine whether you are entitled to see your employee file.
Once you see your employee file, ensure that the reason stated in the records exactly matches the reason in your termination letter. Pay special attention to the wording. For example, ensure that the reason stated is not more severe than the actual reason you were fired.
Make sure that if you submitted any letter or application countering the allegations against you, which stated your side of the story, they are also included in the file.
Moreover, you could have been fired after becoming a victim of office politics. False accusations may have led to your being fired. Unfortunately, unless you can prove through a lawsuit that the charges were false, there is very little you can do.
However, you must gather all evidence and ensure that your side of the story is documented in the employee file.
If you ever plan to press charges against your former employers, you can use the file, and if your new employers ask for details, you can talk freely about why you were fired.
If you were worried about getting fired would go on the records, you have very little to do so.
There is no way a prospective employer could find out the details that led to your termination unless they have to know someone inside your former organization. And even then, your former employers might not divulge employee details for ethical reasons.
However, that does not mean you will not disclose the reason for getting fired. It is always better to assume that your new employer might find out about it somehow, and you do not want that to tarnish your image.
Work on becoming a better employee, and the past will soon be forgotten.