Suppose a recently terminated employee wants to show others a copy of his or her dismissal letter. For example, the reasons given in the letter might be of interest to other employees, or to potential future employees, or to clients.

Would that be violating any laws or norms? Could the employer, for example, sue the ex-employee for disclosing private communications or anything like that?

This is in the United States.

  • 2
    Did you sign any severance agreement which requires you to keep secret the conditions under which you are leaving? – Ben Mz Jun 26 '18 at 3:26
  • For what reason(s) would the employee want to do that? – Masked Man Jun 26 '18 at 3:28
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    @BenMz No severance agreement. – mweiss Jun 26 '18 at 3:29
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    Suppose for example that the reasons given in the letter might be of interest to other employees, or to potential future employees, or to clients. – mweiss Jun 26 '18 at 3:31
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    Could you also specify the employee's location? Since laws vary across the world, it would be necessary to know which laws apply in the employee's case before we can determine if it would be legal. – Masked Man Jun 26 '18 at 3:42

You have a 1st amendment guarantee of free speech. That is going to allow you to share your letter with whom ever you want.

However be careful of Tortious interference. You do not have the right to go seek out and damage the business relationships of your former employer. So, showing a few people probably not a big deal, but if you go and email blast all of their employees and customers expect them to return with a lawsuit against you.

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    First amendment protects you from the government, not your employer (unless you work for the government). – cdkMoose Jun 26 '18 at 15:08
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    Leading with First Amendment rights when the question is not a First Amendment issue confuses the answer. – cdkMoose Jun 26 '18 at 15:45

Your original offer letter and/or the dismissal letter should state the conditions, if any.

If there is no verbiage, then the choice is yours for all the good reasons you may have.

Dismissal will generally be two main reasons: 1: Employee did something wrong 2: Employer doesn’t require the employee

In first case, the employee may not be in the best position to disclose rather personal reasons/issues to others,especially if the reason is controversial/point of contention between the employer and employee.

Ultimately, this is more often a personal choice than a legal conundrum.

  • I think it's worth noting that you can't just add conditions and declare them binding. I can't send a letter to you and demand you keep it secret, just because I want to. – Dan Jun 26 '18 at 9:18

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