“Keeping it confidential”

Dear Andrea:

I faxed and mailed my resume in answer to an ad in the Sunday paper. My boss found out I was looking for a job and terminated me. He actually saw the resume I sent to an associate of his. Is there any recourse I might have against the company that shared my resume with my boss? Are there any laws governing confidentiality?
–Upset in Nevada

Dear Upset in Nevada:

Sounds like your boss and this employer both acted inappropriately. But according to Randy Freking, an employment attorney in Cincinnati, unless there is some assurance of confidentiality when you apply for a job, you’re generally seeking a job at your own peril.
If the ad indicated your application would be a confidential inquiry and you relied on them to keep it confidential, you might have some rights. Otherwise, it’s likely you don’t.
In the future, he suggests you state in your cover letter that you would not want your current employer to be contacted unless you’re seriously being considered for a job. At that point you wouldn’t object to a reference inquiry. This won’t necessarily prevent them from contacting the employer, but it puts them on notice to be careful.

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