P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 1998
AUSTIN - You are the owner of a small business who recently had to fire one of your employees for sexually harassing and stalking another employee. You get a phone call from another business owner who wants a reference for the person you just fired. What do you do?
Under current Texas law, there is a good chance that you could be slapped with a lawsuit if you tell the truth. But that would change under a bill State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, will file on Friday.
The bill would strengthen immunity laws for employers, many of whom are uncomfortable giving honest and accurate references for former employees for fear of being sued under current law. It would also help protect companies for being sued for negligent hiring. In 30 states, including Texas, businesses can be sued for hiring or retaining an employee who is incompetent, vicious or dangerous to others.
The bill does not require employers to disclose any information, but it stipulates that employers cannot be subject to a civil lawsuit for disclosing job performance information unless they are untruthful. It also allows applicants to obtain copies of references.
For safety reasons alone, we should not allow the threat of lawsuit to remain a gag order on employers who have relevant information about someone another business is considering for employment, Nelson said.
State Representative Brian McCall, R-Plano, is the House sponsor of the bill.