Your Obligations if You Receive a Subpoena for a Former Employee
We received a subpoena for a former manager to attend a court hearing. When we informed the requesting attorney that the manager no longer works for us, he verbally asked us for the former employee’s home address. Should we provide that information based on a verbal request?
There are a few things that need to be addressed to answer this question. The answer is dependent upon certain facts and circumstances, including whether and how the legal matter involves your company.
First: You, as the former employer, have no duty to the requesting attorney to respond to oral requests whether the case involves your company or not. In theory, the requesting attorney could subpoena a current HR (or other) representative from your company to provide that information in a deposition. The requesting attorney could also seek a written authorization from your former manager for you to provide the information in writing.
Second: Since the manager no longer works for you, the manager may not be able to speak for or bind the company. That means that the requesting attorney could speak to the former manager without your knowledge or consent.
If the matter involves your company, then the former manager may be able to bind the company for facts related to his or her managerial role. To that end, it makes sense to contact the former manager to explain that you received a subpoena and discuss it. You should also confirm with your former manager that they don’t object to your providing their address and let them know they may want to secure their own attorney.
If the matter doesn’t involve your company, then there’s less to worry about regarding the former manager’s being able to bind you to a set of facts. However, even in that case, you should take steps to contact the former manager to explain that a lawyer is trying to subpoena them for a hearing.
The bottom line is that while you don’t have to cooperate with the verbal request for information, it would be best practice to contact the former manager to facilitate the request.
This article, slightly modified to note recent updates, was featured online in the Wisconsin Employment Law Letter and published by BLR®—Business & Legal Resources. Reproduced here with the permission of BLR®—Business & Legal Resources.