I took my old landlord to court and we reached a settlement agreement. He lied and did not honor the agreement so now I'm considering going back to court. Where I live court records are public and published online. I would expect if an employer google searched my name (I have a very unique last name) they would find the lawsuit.

I'm the one initiating it so of course I think I'm in the right, and there's not many ways to look at it when someone breaks a settlement agreement.

Could it still be seen as a red flag that I had to get involved in the legal system?

In response to the comment about being certain if I win, there's always a chance the judge wouldn't give me 100% of what I'm seeking. Court rulings can't be predicted with complete certainty. Though give my circumstance I can't imagine getting 0% of what I want.

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    If you're certain you will win, can't see how it would be a problem. It's more when you research a candidate and see a frivolous suit that was dismissed or lost, then a red flag is raised Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 21:39
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    Pretty sure if a potential employer decided not to hire me because they see me exercising my rights against a greedy landlord I'd consider that a "dodged a bullet" scenario.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 23:00
  • " court records are public and published online" they are systematically published online for all to view, or, can be they only be obtained upon request (as an FOIA procedure)? Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 23:29
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    I think it's 'lawsuit' but I'm not confident enough to edit. Commented Jan 5, 2020 at 23:43
  • @dangel I added to the question. Technically I think no one could be 100% certain how a case will turn out. My situation is complicated since we were already at court but he broke a settlement agreement.
    – Haptometer
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 14:33

5 Answers 5


Your legal dispute with the landlord is not unusual, and I do not think that an employer would look negatively on it. You initiated the lawsuit not vice versa. If you landlord was suing you, then it might raise red flags. Given that the information is public, any potential employer could get the information on the case through public record to see what prompted the dispute.

On my job applications, you are required to indicate if you have had dealings with the criminal justice system (parking tickets, misdemeanors, felonies, etc.). Your lawsuit against the landlord involves civil law; I can't think of one job application that asked me if I was in a civil suit of any kind.

I think you are probably okay! The legal system is there for a reason, and we are all allowed to use its tools to seek remedies when we are wronged. I doubt any employer would hold that against you (unless, of course, it meant that it was keeping you out of work so often that you couldn't do your job -- now that would be a problem).

  • I can't think of one job application that asked me if I was in a civil suit of any kind it is actually common to ask that (and verify with a background check) in certain industries with heightened security or risk concerns (i.e. working for a financial institution).
    – dwizum
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:40
  • As a defendant in a case, yes, which could result in a judgment that leads to wage garnishment or a lien of some kind. I doubt this case regarding landlords would have an impact of any kind on employment. In this situation, the individual posting the question is bringing the suit as the plaintiff.
    – Keith
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 19:49
  • I agree that the suit as described by the OP would have no impact, but I don't agree with your as a defendant in a case qualifier to my comment - I have seen hiring processes that require you to identify if you are involved in any civil suits as either the plaintiff or the defendant. But - to repeat - I don't disagree with your answer, and was just seeking to clarify that this thing which you've never seen yourself does in fact exist and is common in some industries.
    – dwizum
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 20:14

Could it still be seen as a red flag that I had to get involved in the legal system?

Of course it could be. It could be that someone would see this and conclude that you are a lawsuit-happy individual, and worry that you might come after their company.

But that's exceedingly unlikely.

First, they would have to somehow discover that you are "involved in the legal system". I assume you won't be telling an interviewer about this, nor will you include it in a resume or cover letter. So the only way they would know is during a thorough background check or online search. And that background check/search would also discover the nature of your involvement, and that you are the plaintiff rather than a defendant.

Second, they would have to care about it. That seems very unlikely to me. Nothing about what you said is work-related, not indicative of a potential problem employee, as far as I can tell. I'm assuming your lawsuit won't require you to take significant time away from work.

It's not something I'd worry about.


Could it still be seen as a red flag that I had to get involved in the legal system?

The only raised eyebrows you might get is if your dispute somehow involves one of your former employers or if the outcome of the dispute could affect your ability to do your job (for example the possibility of losing your license for severe traffic violations for a delivery driver or charges that concern abusing minors when supposed to be around minors as part of the job).

Anything else, why would I care? That's your problem, not mine.

Matter of fact, where I live, we have to neither inform a potential employer about that, nor would a question in the interview be well taken. Someone asking me for my private legal business raises a red flag to me as the one looking for a job. If I'm working with minors, asking for a certificate from the authorities that I have no priors is expected, but everything else is creepy.


old landlord to court

No good company would be concerned about this. Taking legal action doesn't mean anything negative about you. When a company does a background check which can include a credit report, they are only concerned about judgements against you for a huge amount of money where you did something unethical.

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    @nvoigt if you've had a civil judgement against you that placed you in financial debt to some other person or entity, the judgement itself shows up on your credit report (regardless of any transactional data or any indication of what you have used money for, or whether or not you respected the judgement).
    – dwizum
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:38
  • @dwizum You may want to qualify that with a country. It does not in my country and would probably be considered a gross violation of privacy. If a court orders me to pay a fine or settlement to someone and I cannot and am now in debt, that sure shows, but if I just draw my preferred means of payment and pay the fine without any delays, that should never show.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jan 6, 2020 at 16:45

If your position (finance? health care? security clearance?) requires a deep background check they probably will find this kind of legal record. But deep background checks cost money. They probably won't do one until they have decided to hire you.

You can explain the situation if they raise the question: "My former landlord is trying to cheat me."

Or, when they tell you they're doing the deep background check you can proactively give them the information about all this.

That being said, suing people takes lots of your money, time, physical energy, and emotional energy. I assume you've decided suing this landlord is worth it. It might not be.

  • "suing people takes lots of your money, time, physical energy, and emotional energy." I know. That's why I said thinking about. I don't really see how this makes the justice system fair.
    – Haptometer
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 1:33
  • Ummm.... has it ever been fair? In Massachusetts USA, where I live, the law strongly favors tenants, and landlords hate hate hate it. In other US states the law favors landlords, and tenants really get screwed.
    – O. Jones
    Commented Jan 7, 2020 at 17:57

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