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How long do employers keep your records on file after being fired?

In 2007 (August to be exact), I was fired from a company named Centerplate, who are the hospitality/food service provider for Qualcomm Stadium and the San Diego Convention Center. I worked at both venues. They fired me for accidentally hitting a fire sprinkler with company equipment, which was located in an inventory-storage area. I was in the process of putting away the coffee cart back into storage. Unfortunately, I forgot to pull down the adjustable sign so it would not hit the sprinkler above me (probably due to fatigue).

I was fired immediately. After I received the termination letter in the mail about a week later, it was official. The letter, written by H.R., indicated that the water damage from the accident cost the company thousands of dollars. Not only was I fired, I ended up being outcast by my fellow subordinates. No of them would even speak to after visiting the convention center through a different employer (It was for event-security staff.). I approached some of them to say hi and to see how they were doing (small talk). Although a few acknowledged my presence, I could tell they were uncomfortable around me, so I said bye and just left right away. Management, I assume, told them not to speak or associate with me.

Months later, I relocated back to my native Washington State to live with my family. I was hoping a change of scenery would reverse my career misfortunes. Moving has not cured my bad luck so far -- mostly because of the recent recession. Luckily, 2-year unemployment and now the Post 9/11 GI Bill have kept me off the streets. I've been going to a community college during the last couple of years with aspirations of transferring to a 4-year school to pursue a bachelor's in English. After the school year is over, I want to take a year off from school. In order to take some time off from school, I need to find a stable job by either spring or summer.

This brings me back to my ex-employer—Centerplate. Through my own research, I've discovered they have the food-services contract at SafeCo Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. It has been over five years since my termination from them. I would like to work for them again because it's a perfect gig for a college student. And guess what? They're currently hiring for the upcoming baseball season, so I would like to apply for the position of Concession Stand Manager, my previous position before being fired. I believe company protocol requires keeping terminated employee records indefinitely. But -- here's the catch (from H.R. boards online): while my employment records are always kept (for legal reasons), there's a good chance that it would not show up on the computer or in a paper file (I'm referring to not showing up as a former employee in the system initially). Why? They usually only hold such records for three years.

knowing this, I'm pondering calling it too much water under the bridge by simply applying without telling them about my previous history with the company. Besides, the job is in different city and state. Nobody is going to know who I am anyways. Five-to-seven-year terminations are considered ancient history for employers. The only way they possibly find out is through vetting me. Also, I know for a fact (due to such fast employee turnover) that Centerplate does not do background checks. Should I take a calculated risk and do this? Should I be upfront and honest with them, even though I'm in a "catch 22?" Responses from current or former H.R./Admin guys would be helpful. Peace.

Here's an illustration of the type coffee cart I was working with during the accident. You see where the sign is located? This similar looking sign hit the sprinkler, activating it in the process:

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In the day and age of electronic records, there's likely no set 'purge time' for employment records. Two possible scenarios here: one, you put the time that you were employed with the company previously in your resume/application. They check it out and find out why you left their employment, finding out that you were terminated for cause. Maybe they give you an interview, maybe they don't. If you get the interview, you explain what happened that caused your termination the first time...you learned from your mistakes and are ready to drive on.

Two, you omit the time that you were employed with them. HR wonders about the gap in employment, but they give you an interview anyway. Let's say you ace the interview and get the job. A short time later, while processing your paperwork, HR finds records of you having worked for them in the past...in nearly the exact time frame shown as a gap in employment on your application. You're terminated again for lying on an application.

I would recommend honesty in this case. Apply, but be honest about your employment there previously. It might be against policy to rehire those who were terminated for cause, but it can't hurt to try. The worst they can say is 'no'.
 
IMHO it is always best to be honest! It is never good to be terminated from the same company twice.

Tom
 
I would echo others' comments about honesty. It might be a good idea to have an answer ready that shows that you 1) accept responsibility for what happened, 2) explain why it happened, and 3) be able to explain why it wouldn't happen again.

I wish you good luck!
 
I would echo others' comments about honesty. It might be a good idea to have an answer ready that shows that you 1) accept responsibility for what happened, 2) explain why it happened, and 3) be able to explain why it wouldn't happen again.

I wish you good luck!

Precisely. Not being truthful is simply never an option for an honorable person.

As a longtime employer in various roles and contexts, I would instantly fire someone whom I discovered to have lied in his application or interview, whether directly or by omission of obviously germane information. That's not a guy I want around. Don't be that guy.

Making a mistake is trivial. Handling it right after the fact is what defines one's character.

Best of luck with all!!
 
It may vary by state to state, but usually employment records are kept for a minimum of 7 years since the last date of employment. That said, the 7 years figure is a minimum, and any employer could keep records, including performance info and termination records indefinitely.

Its likely that the H.R. / Recruiting departments in each city maintain their own records, and Seattle might not ever become aware of your employment in San Diego, but... Lies or intentional omissions of work history on an application for employment is usually grounds for immediate termination, and may also result in the denial of unemployment benefits.

I'd be honest from the start, rather than risk being fired twice by the same company!
 
I agree with JRP316 , at least one other poster said the same , be honest ; it happened to me many years ago, it came up in an interview and I just said I had a disagreement with the boss ; I was hired and it was behind me for good ; good luck !!!
 
Be honest and open. Having worked for a Fortune 100 company, I hired employees who were fired in another region. I once asked my Regional VP about this and he said he did not have an issue as long as they were not fired for stealing, raping or killing an employee.
 
+1 For honesty.

If it doesn't work out, could you not try looking for a similar position at another food service provider?
 
We always entered a rehire ok, or do not rehire on all separations, so it would come up in the computer.

Also what would your employer think if they found out you lied, my first thought would be if you lie you might also steal.

If you really think your black listed in that field because of that damage, go into another field, Inventory Specialists are perfect and sometimes good paying student jobs for example
 

garyg

B&B membership has its percs
Echoing the honesty answers, where I used to work (I think 700K employees then) record retention on discharges was something around 75 years .. and that was when we had them on graven tablets .. better to walk in with nothing hidden than to try and weasel in and be caught, and fired again for something more serious than negligent operation.
 

Toothpick

Needs milk and a bidet!
I would just look for something else. There are plenty of jobs that are perfect for college students.

You were fired. If they ask on the application "have you ever worked for this company before" and you say "no" (which is a lie) and they find out you have...well then you will be fired a 2nd time.

If you are just up front with them and admit that you've worked for them in the past, and they are interested in interviewing you then you can explain why you were fired. It was an accident, in a different state/ballpark. They are more likely to not care about the accident and hire you.

Honesty is always the best policy. I've dealt with hiring/firing in retail. One way to guarantee you no chance of being hired is if you lie on your application.

"have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony?" is one such question where folks are tempted to lie, they think "if I tell them the truth they wont want to hire me"....which is not true....it is just an easy way to find out if you are honest. I've been convicted of a misdemeanor before and I have always disclosed this on my application and not one time has it ever prevented me from getting the job.

You were fired because of a simple accident. tell the truth, explain the situation and you're chances will be better than not telling the truth.
 
Thanks for the friendly advice, guys. I'm most likely heavily leaning towards the up-front-and-honest approach on the application. Any advice on how to explain the accident. Should I sugarcoat it so it does not sound so bad? Should I go into great details about it with them...etc...etc? Peace.
 
In a company that large, if you have been terminated(for any reason) you are usually marked as 'not eligible for re-hire' and that will show up for awhile. If you get along far enough for an interview it's my guess that you are not marked as such and if they ask you go ahead and tell them, but I wouldn't go out of my way to tell them all about it.
 
Any advice on how to explain the accident. Should I sugarcoat it so it does not sound so bad? Should I go into great details about it with them...etc...etc?

I would keep it brief - just enough details so that they know what happened and why, followed with brief expressions that you accept responsibility and what has changed so it won't happen again. I believe that these 3 things are the key components of an apology - acknowledgement of what happened, taking responsibility for it, explaining why it did happen, and a sincere commitment to not doing it again.
 
I would keep it brief - just enough details so that they know what happened and why, followed with brief expressions that you accept responsibility and what has changed so it won't happen again. I believe that these 3 things are the key components of an apology - acknowledgement of what happened, taking responsibility for it, explaining why it did happen, and a sincere commitment to not doing it again.

+1

Exactly what I was thinking.
 
Be honest. If you really want to work for them again, try and speak with a live person in HR, preferably in person. Own up to the past mistake and termination. Be nice and polite, explain time has passed, you have gained experience. Recall how working for them was personally rewarding. Ask if there is a chance they would consider bringing you back on.

Honesty, humility, and professionalism may just open a door for you.
 
I've had people lie about work history and we have always found out about it, and it always results in immediate termination.
If you do this, you'll have two strikes against you instead of just one that you may be able to explain away.

There's a philosophy out there that if you're in this position, you mitigate the damage by being up front to an extreme.
Fill out the application and attach a letter to it explaining the situation, what happened and that you have learned from the experience.
Explain to them that you are the right candidate because;
1. You have experience in the very field they are looking for someone.
2. Have learned a very valuable lesson in the school of hard knocks that other applicants don't have.

Regardless of whether you choose to pursue this job or another one, don't lie about it. Sooner or later it will catch up with you.
 
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