Sidestep liability when releasing information on ex-employees

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in Human Resources

Wal-Mart fired truck driver Joseph Tracz after he tested positive for drugs. When he applied for another job, Tracz signed an authorization form allowing Wal-Mart to release his past drug tests. After failing to get the new job, he sued Wal-Mart for negligence, saying Wal-Mart should have released only results of certain tests required by the Transportation Department.

In refusing to rule for Tracz without a trial, the state appeals court said the authorization form was unclear about which test results should be released. (Wal-Mart Stores Inc. v. Tracz, No. 5D00-2649, Fla. Ct. App., 2001)

Advice: Make sure all forms authorizing you to release information are clear and legal. Also, have all new hires sign a release that gives you the right to respond truthfully to potential employer inquiries and waives legal claims that may arise out of giving references.

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