What are previous employers allowed to say about you legally?

I know this is long, but please read and help me! I'm desparate! I was a manager in a hotel in Aspen, CO until April. It was horrible. My boss was a total jerk and my position required me to work 12 to 14 hours a day, often with no days off for a month or more, and of course the guests there were often rude and... show more I know this is long, but please read and help me! I'm desparate!
I was a manager in a hotel in Aspen, CO until April. It was horrible. My boss was a total jerk and my position required me to work 12 to 14 hours a day, often with no days off for a month or more, and of course the guests there were often rude and abusive. I worked very hard at this job, completely revamping their training techniques, policies and procedures, earning them high marks with guest satisfaction and greatly improving the staff. I earned one stellar review, and one mediocre one (which was right at the end of the season, when I admittedly was starting to break down from the stress of the job). Less than 2 weeks after my mediocre review, and after I showed improvement and renewed energy in my position, I was fired, because I "didn't fit in". That was the only explanation I was given. I found out later from a friend who still worked there that a guest had complained about me to the manager, having mixed me up with another girl who works there that was apparently "dismissive" of this guest's needs. I had only spoken to this guest on one occasion, it was a short and actually cheerful conversation, which is why I'm certain she had me confused with one of the other managers who is admittedly rude and dismissive and looks somewhat similar to me. Anyway, I was very upset and forced to move out of my expensive apartment because I couldn't get another job, despite putting my resume in all over town. I have tons of management experience and a stellar resume, but no one would interview me. I had to move back in with my parents, and still couldn't get a job. I even started applying for waitressing jobs and regular front desk, but could not get hired. I thought this odd, so I had my friend call my old job and pose as a perspective employer. Low and behold, my old boss is telling people who check my employment that I was rude to the guests and he would not recommend hiring me! This has single handedly destroyed my career! I've been in the hospitality management buisness for 7 years, working tirelessly on furthering my career, and this hotel has sabatoged it! The thing is, I didn't even do anything wrong! I called my previous boss and told him I was aware of what he was saying and even told him that I was unjustly fired, and he said simply, "I'm sorry". Is there anything I can do? Do I have to lie and say I was unemployed for a year and a half? Isn't it illegal for him to say these things to people who are just calling to verify that I worked there? I don't know what to do and I'm devastated and concerned that my career, which I truly LOVE is ruined because I made the mistake of thinking it would be cool to live in Aspen. Please help, I can't afford to get another degree in something else and start over at 29 years old!
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