Q. Our HR department recently received an inquiry from another employer concerning one of our former employees who was applying for a job. The inquiry contained an authorization and release signed by the employee indicating we could share the information without liability. Should we share it?
A. That is a policy decision. There is no legal requirement that the information be provided under such circumstances, unless, perhaps, if a failure to provide it would pose a foreseeable risk of harm to others.
The release does not eliminate all risk of liability or a possible lawsuit. There are several unanswered considerations that must be evaluated:
- Is the authorization broad enough to cover the information being released?
- Does it cover all the persons and entities that have released the information?
- What if the person releasing the information does so with malice?
- Is there a risk of harm to persons or property if the information is not shared?
- How likely is it that the information can be proven to be true?
- How likely is the person to claim retaliation, libel, slander, etc. if the information is shared?
Answers to those questions will help shape an answer to the policy issue of whether you should release the information.