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I am a Massachusetts citizen and I am also a disabled vet. I work at a large company as a programmer/developer, and I have decided to put my 2 week notice in after many frustrations and overall unhappiness.

All of my bosses tried to keep me by offering more money and less work load etc (I declined). They even offered to let me work on other development teams etc. I am still on good terms with all of my bosses and had no problems getting references for a new job at a different company.

There is one person that I work with that threatened to call the new employer and tell them not to hire me (we do not get along all that well).

I read that blacklisting is illegal in Massachusetts. Is it illegal for this fellow employee to call the new company and tell them not to hire me? Does this count as blacklisting?

I have already signed all of the paperwork at the new company and I am all set to start in a couple of weeks. I would be pretty upset if I were to lose the opportunity (especially where all of my bosses have given good references).

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    Just tell your new employer that there is a vindictive pinhead at your old company and they might hear from them. And tell the vindictive pinhead to get stuffed.
    – Tiger Guy
    Sep 2, 2021 at 3:03

3 Answers 3

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The grain of truth is what you've read is that Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 149 § 19 says

No person shall, by intimidation or force, prevent or seek to prevent a person from entering into or continuing in the employment of any person

This is referenced in a compendium of state laws loosely subsumed under the notion of "blacklisting". In Arkansas, this would be writing, printing, publishing, or circulating false statements in order to get someone fired or prevent someone from obtaining employment; in Indiana it is using any means to prevent a discharged employee from obtaining employment. The Massachusetts law only prevents use of intimidation or force to prevent a person from getting employed. In other words, "blacklisting" is not the same thing in all jurisdictions.

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  • Okay well said.... I can see that the minutia may be relevant here. I wonder if threatening to do so during a work call with several other employees listening in counts as intimidation?
    – user39772
    Sep 1, 2021 at 23:40
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Is it illegal for this fellow employee to call the new company and tell them not to hire me? Does this count as blacklisting?

As user6726 points out in another answer, Massachusetts does have a blacklisting prohibition, but the facts you mention probably don't qualify.

A truthful statement of facts and opinions, even unsolicited, is not unlawful (and probably protected under the First Amendment). A false statement of facts could be actionable as defamation, although such cases are very hard to prove in this fact pattern.

You could also consider a lawsuit against a co-employee who calls your new employer causing you to lose the job for tortious interference with contract or tortious interference with prospective business advantage, but again, under the First Amendment, truthful statements of fact and opinion would probably be privileged against legal liability.

Practical Considerations

You have no duty to make it easy for the fellow employee to call, however. You don't have to tell him when you start, who you will be working for, or who the relevant contact people are. You could even lie to or otherwise mislead your former co-worker about one detail or another to interfere with your co-worker's ability to do so without facing any realistic exposure to liability (since the co-worker wouldn't rely on anything you said and it wouldn't be material to the co-worker).

If you think that the co-workers is very likely to call anyway, you might want to give likely recipients of the call a heads up providing some pre-emptive context and defense for yourself.

Positive recommendations from your bosses will undermine a co-worker's call if one is made and can probably be explained away. At this point, your new employer is probably committed to hiring you and not likely to revisit the decision absent a really serious allegation, and your proof of damages if false statements are made in a defamation case would be much stronger than in a typical case where an offer simply isn't made as a result of the other person's action.

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Is it illegal for this fellow employee to call the new company and tell them not to hire me?

That would depend largely on the exact contents of the call. Is it "hey, I think it's probably not a great idea to hire user39772" or "if you hire user39772 I will come and burn down your office"? The first one would not violate any laws, the second probably would.

This being said, it's an utterly empty thread. If I'm the hiring manager and someone I don't know calls me out of the blue to bad-talk a new hire, I'd just laugh and hang up. There is zero credibility .

Your correct answer would be:

"Great, I'll give you my hiring manager's phone number and let them know you are calling. Feel free to make a fool out of yourself".

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