I was fired from my last job for gross misconduct due to a breach of confidentiality. When i apply for jobs in the future, what exactly happens when my new employer does a reference check on my past jobs? Will it be a basic check (position check, length of service (date check), salary check) or will it be an in depth check into the fine details as to why I was dismissed ?

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    Quite a few companies just only give the basic details (start/end dates, position) in fear of court cases. I doubt they release salary as this information is handy for their competitors
    – Ed Heal
    Dec 15, 2018 at 6:15
  • thanks, what about my gross misconduct details? Are those given out as well? Dec 15, 2018 at 6:18
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    Perhaps and perhaps not - depends on the company. I would guess not - as it is also an indicitation of failure of the companhy as well as the individual.Would the company wish to piublisise that confidentiality was breached?
    – Ed Heal
    Dec 15, 2018 at 6:21
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    This questions is very hard to answer specifically, because practices will vary significantly from industry to industry or employer to employer. One job may simply want to know if you worked at a company you listed on your resume and will only solicit a yes or no answer. Another employer's background check may delve into incredible detail, both about your professional and personal (financials, travel history, etc.) background.
    – dwizum
    Dec 15, 2018 at 13:59
  • if a company (other than recruiting agencies) ask for reference check, I also ask for reference check from current and former employee. Simple reciprocity.
    – Raychenon
    Sep 18, 2020 at 11:32

3 Answers 3


It depends on the company asking for the background check, the company doing the background check, and the company you worked for. It is reasonably common for a background check to ask something like "Is user10433947 eligible to be rehired?" as a catch-all question to determine what sort of terms you left under. Presumably, if the background check company asks and the company you worked for is willing to give out that information, they'll answer "no" and the background check will raise a concern. It's unlikely that they're going to get into the fine details of what caused you to be ineligible to be rehired with the HR person that they call. If your prior manager is one of your references, though, I'd expect a more detailed question to at least be asked.

In some locations and industries, there are enough people that have crossed paths with each other through their careers that hiring managers can do a very informal background check by calling up a buddy that happens to work at the company you came from to get some background. That's likely to provide more details (assuming the friend knows them of course).


Breaches of confidentiality can go both ways. Companies are limited in what they can disclose to an individual doing a background check on a perspective employee. This kind of information is on a company database and there are laws that protect employee privacy. A reason for dismissal is a internal corporate matter and would require your written consent for disclosure. If a company were to do so they would be opening themselves up to potential litigation for damaging a persons reputation by breach of confidentiality.They are basically limited to your job title, length of service, and maybe a very general discription of your position.

On the other hand if you committed a criminal offense on the job and law enforcement and the court system were involved then it is public record and then you are screwed.


Many employers don't disclose much information beyond title and employment dates in response to background checks. (In the US anyway.) If your breach was deliberate and resulted in some serious damage to somebody, that may be different.

So you have a couple of choices.

  1. look for a new job without disclosing your mistake up front. If somebody asks about it, be ready to explain why it won't happen again.

  2. disclose it up front and tell people you're hoping hoping for another chance.

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    Why bother disclosing it at all? You say it that you have a difference in opinion and leave it at that. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas sort to speak.
    – Old_Fossil
    Dec 16, 2018 at 22:31

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