Question: I resigned from my job because a co-worker threatened my safety, and even though I reported it to my employer, they did nothing to protect me. When I applied for unemployment insurance, I won, because the judge found my workplace to be a hostile and intimidating environment. I am now in litigation against my former employer to recover my lost wages.

I’ve been told that my former employer is telling potential employers I am “not a rehire” and “not a team player.”

What should I say about this – if anything – in upcoming interviews?

Deb
Milwaukee, WI

Answer: First, I would suggest strongly that, if you are aware that your former employer (or anyone who works for your former employer) is saying negative things about you, you or your lawyer should send the company’s CEO, or Board of Directors, a clear and stern letter demanding that it be stopped immediately, and that if it is not, it will be added to your lawsuit against them.

Second, I think that your best bet is the truth, but kept simple: “I had a serious problem with a co-worker who threatened me, and had no choice but to resign and leave to avoid possible physical injury. It was so obvious and bad that the unemployment officials said it was a justified resignation, and awarded me unemployment benefits. More than that I would rather not get into, for several reasons.”

Give these two ideas a try. I think they’re the best you can do in your difficult situation.

Best, Al Sklover

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