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Employer Misconduct

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My question is whether an employer has a right to state (in writing) that any prospective employers who call for a verification of employment WILL be told of the reason for my resignation (unfavorable). My employer did this to me and consequently I took employment paying half my salary, had to lie on my resume (4 and half years with them) in order to find work for fear of what they would tell a prospective employer. Is this legal and if not, is it worth it to file against them? Thank you.

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