1997 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) White (29th)
Senate Bill 2162
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH CERTAIN PRESUMPTIONS AND RIGHTS WHEN EMPLOYMENT-RELATED INFORMATION IS DISCLOSED BY AN EMPLOYER UPON THE REQUEST OF A PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER OR A CURRENT OR FORMER EMPLOYEE; TO PROVIDE IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO SUCH DISCLOSURES IN CERTAIN INSTANCES BOTH FOR THE EMPLOYER AND THE PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYER; TO ESTABLISH DAMAGES TO WHICH THE PREVAILING PARTY IN ACTIONS RELATING TO SUCH DISCLOSURES WILL BE ENTITLED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) As used in this section, the following words and phrases shall have the meanings ascribed herein unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Employer" means any person, firm or corporation, including the state and its political subdivisions, and their agents, that has one or more employees, or individuals performing services under any contract of hire or service, expressed or implied, oral or written.
(b) "Employee" means any person, paid or unpaid, in the service of an employer.
(c) "Prospective employer" means any employer, as defined herein, to which a prospective employee has made application, either oral or written, or forwarded a resume or other correspondence expressing an interest in employment.
(d) "Prospective employee" means any person who has made an application, either oral or written, or has sent a resume or other correspondence indicating an interest in employment.
(e) "Job performance" includes, but is not limited to, attendance, attitude, awards, demotions, duties, effort, safety, evaluations, knowledge, skills, promotions and disciplinary actions.
(2) Any employer that, upon request by a prospective employer or a current or former employee, provides accurate information about a current or former employee's job performance or reasons for separation, is presumed to be acting in good faith and shall be immune from civil liability and other consequences of such disclosure. For purposes of this section, the presumption of good faith may be rebutted only upon a showing of clear and convincing evidence that the information disclosed was knowingly false, deliberately misleading and disclosed for a malicious purpose.
(3) Any prospective employer who reasonably relies on information pertaining to an employee's job performance or reasons for separation disclosed by a former employer is presumed to be acting in good faith and will be immune from civil liability, including liability for negligent hiring, negligent retention and other causes of action related to the hiring of such employee, based upon such reasonable reliance, unless further investigation, including, but not limited to, a criminal background check, is required by law.
(4) The prevailing party in any cause of action for defamation, invasion of privacy, negligent hiring, negligent retention, or other related cause of action, alleging that information disclosed or reasonably relied upon by an employer was knowingly false, deliberately misleading, and disclosed for a malicious purpose, shall be entitled to an award of reasonable damages, reasonable attorney's fees, and court costs incurred as a result of the claim. An employer prevailing in such an action shall be entitled to reasonable damages, reasonable attorney's fees, and court costs incurred only if the cause of action is deemed frivolous, meritless or brought for malicious purposes.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.