Can a previous employer give you a bad reference

(27 Posts)
user1497997754 Wed 20-Dec-17 22:02:12

Just that really.....have been told that they can refuse to give a reference but not give a bad one

OP’s posts: |
SpartonDregs Wed 20-Dec-17 22:03:32

Yes they can, why wouldn't they?

They will often give a bad one verbally whilst sticking to a neutral one in writing.

PurpleDaisies Wed 20-Dec-17 22:05:07

Yes they can. As long as they’re factually accurate, they can say what they want. It’s s common misconception that no one can give a bad reference.

WeAllHaveWings Wed 20-Dec-17 22:09:47

Factual reference is fine good or bad. It’s unlikely they will give a bad one though unless they have proof to back it up, e.g. performance appraisals, emails, disciplinary records, sickness records. etc.

flowery Thu 21-Dec-17 04:23:45

References must be factually accurate and not give a misleading overall impression of the employee.

Cavender Thu 21-Dec-17 04:29:49

Of course they can. They just have to be very careful that it’s factual so they don’t get sued.

But if for example they have rock solid documentation about excessive sick days, disciplinary actions or lack of competence they can absolutely discuss that if they wish.

Be mindful also that these days it’s very easy to have a quick look through Linked In and find a friend of a friend who has worked with the candidate. And where they might not be prepared to commit anything on paper it’s likely that they’ve quite happy to have an informal telephone call with a mate/former colleague.

Cavender Thu 21-Dec-17 04:30:58

I should say, I know several people who have had job offers withdrawn following references being obtained.

SpartonDregs Thu 21-Dec-17 09:12:38

References must be factually accurate and not give a misleading overall impression of the employee

In an ideal world. But meanwhile...

treblea3 Thu 21-Dec-17 09:42:26

I know of employers who have been successfully sued for giving bad references.

SpartonDregs Thu 21-Dec-17 09:44:02

I know of employers who have been successfully sued for giving bad references

Exactly, they can indeed give bad references.

funkyzebra Thu 21-Dec-17 09:46:45

They can but generally don't for fear of being sued. You're leaving anyway so the hassle of a legal battle just isn't worth it for them. They will just write 'x worked here between the dates of y and z'.

ElenaBothari Thu 21-Dec-17 09:48:37

If they give an inaccurate or unfair bad reference they can be sued, so they will only give a written bad reference if they can prove what they say.

treblea3 Thu 21-Dec-17 09:49:41

Quite Spartan and they can ultimately pay the price for doing so.
That is why the majority of employers stick with basics like length of employment dates.

Animation86 Thu 21-Dec-17 09:52:02

Most just state factual stuff like how long you worked there etc

Bombardier25966 Thu 21-Dec-17 09:56:06

I know of employers who have been successfully sued for giving bad references.

I expect that you mean dishonest or intentionally misleading rather than bad. A bad but factually accurate reference would not be grounds for legal action.

DoublyTroubly Thu 21-Dec-17 18:12:50

Ex employers can also be sued for giving false good references (eg by the new employer when they find out they hired the wrong person because of a false good reference)!

LookingForwardToChristmas Thu 21-Dec-17 18:14:06

Yes, as long as it is factual. Some employers get around it by saying they do wish to provide any reference for an individual which says it all without any worry of repercussions.

Dlpdep Thu 21-Dec-17 18:15:51

We were always advised to give the facts. So if someone was a poor performer, you would just say that they worked at x company from x date to x date. On the other side of the coin, if getting references and that’s all the employer was prepared to say, you read between the lines.

ProfYaffle Thu 21-Dec-17 18:16:35

It's a duel responsibility. Employers have to be fair both to the ex-employee and the new employer. If there have been problems with the employee then not being honest about that also leaves them liable.

It's a tricky area and is why a lot of companies stick with basic dates/job title type of references.

prh47bridge Thu 21-Dec-17 21:24:05

On the other side of the coin, if getting references and that’s all the employer was prepared to say, you read between the lines

You shouldn't. Many companies will only give a factual reference confirming dates regardless of the employee's performance.

AgentProvocateur Thu 21-Dec-17 21:39:06

I had one that was “x worked here from y till z,“ and the covering email said, “feel free to contact me in confidence”. So I did, and got the full picture.

treblea3 Fri 22-Dec-17 16:39:03

Well there are many, many truly toxic workplaces out there, so you could have been getting “the full picture” from a vindictive employer!

Maybe you should ask them to commit it to writing before you naively fall for that! It they haven’t got the courage to do that then it could be just slander.

AgentProvocateur Fri 22-Dec-17 18:05:10

It could be, but not when you get a similar story from two ex-employers. I didn’t take it at face value, but it did make me dig deeper.

SpartonDregs Fri 22-Dec-17 18:58:12

Quite Spartan and they can ultimately pay the price for doing so

The question wasn't 'what price can they pay' it was around 'I have been told that they can refuse to give a reference but not give a bad one', which they patently can. They can give any reference they want. The issue is, what can someone do about it if the reference is false. Usually, not alot unless they can evidence it and have the means to take it further.

treblea3 Fri 22-Dec-17 19:10:00

Yes and the employer will have to evidence it too when it’s taken further!

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