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> Also, in the USA, there are rules limiting what you can say about a former employee.

You can't defame former employees but you can say true things about them. State laws, generally speaking, do not prohibit you from saying (true) stuff about former employees, in fact some have clauses protecting you from defamation lawsuits. At the most basic level it's a 1st amendment right, the Constitution doesn't have a secret section on employment law.

Many employers have a policy of only giving job title and dates of employment, to prevent any possible lawsuit. However, if you say it with sufficient disgust in your voice, it'll be obvious that you're giving a negative reference.

Even if what you are saying is true, that still doesn't mean it can't lead to a lawsuit.

Anything can lead to a lawsuit.

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