No matter what anybody tells you, there are no laws proscribing what an employer can say about a former employee. The distinction that confuses people is between a policy adopted by the employer and a law passed by a legislative body.
Policies are the rules a company adopts that outline things such as how many vacation days employees may take or how many paid sick days employees may take. When a legislative body meets and decides to control how fast you can drive your car, and attaches a fine or other penalty for driving in excess of that speed, that’s a law.
So, in a nutshell, employers are allowed to disclose whatever they choose to disclose. And, as long as whatever is said is an honestly held opinion or a documented fact, there is no liability for saying it. You may be reprimanded for saying it if there’s a policy that forbids it, but you certainly won’t go to jail!
Furthermore, there are no laws that have criminalized providing job performance information about a current or former employee. There may be civil consequences if a reference intentionally lies about a candidate for employment, but it’s certainly not a crime.
There may also be civil consequences if the prospective employer asks questions about topics that are protected by the EEOC but, again, doing so isn’t a crime – it’s a civil wrong! Big difference…