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Monday, August 13, 2012

Employment References

Question
What are the chances of getting sued for giving a poor reference?

Many employers are leery of giving out employment references for former employees.
Comment:
Fairly low unless you slander someone. A recent research paper indicated there is an extremely low number of such lawsuits in North America. Furthermore, it is believed that, in many of those cases, the situation involved malicious intent, where the employer was accused of slander or attempting to blacken the former employees’ reputation, thus preventing them from earning a living.
Recommendation:
You can provide references, but stream them through one person for consistency and control.

Ask reference callers if the person has given approval for a reference check, and if the reference is to be confidential. Ideally you can use performance related documents (appraisals, commendations, disciplinary records, etc) as sources, but few organizations document those consistently. (We can show you how!)

If a departing/departed employee asks for references to be given, it may be a good idea to inform them as to what will be said. Where possible, you want to be positive, but don’t want to lie.

Provide honest, fact based comments, that, even if the employee did hear about them, would be hard for them to deny. If you do this, it is unlikely that most former employees will invest a large amount of money to sue you. It on the other hand, their departure from the organization was unpleasant, be more careful.

Posted by Dan Furlan at 12:00 AM

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