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Worried About A Bad Reference From Former Employers?

by Beverly Aarons 20. April 2012 07:12

Many job candidates worry that former employers may say something negative about them; but there are many laws on the books that protect employees from defamatory statements. Let’s take a look at a few of the facts:

  1. An employer is forbidden from making false and defamatory statements about former employees. For example, if an employer falsely suggests that you didn’t perform all of your duties, you may be able to sue them for defamation. The important thing to note is that the statement must be false and damaging to be considered defamatory. If it is true that you didn’t perform certain duties as stated in the example above, the statement would not be considered defamation.
  2. An employer who gives more information than necessary with the intention of harming a job candidate’s job prospects might face legal action. For example, if an employer is only asked for employment dates and job title but they reveal the fact that the job candidate took three months of personal leave because of an illness, this could make the employer vulnerable to lawsuits.  This is why most employers limit what an employee can say when giving a reference.
  3. An employer who uses a reference to punish a former employee could be in violation of the law. Many states forbid what is called “blacklisting.”  If a job candidate is given a bad reference because they filed a lawsuit or discrimination claim against their former employee they may have the right to sue the employer. 

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