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Can a negative reference be challenged?(5 Posts)
Two years ago, my friend was dismissed from the job she loved after 20 years. The reason was gross misconduct. Without going into specific details, there was a police inquiry from which she was later completely exonerated. However, her employer dismissed her anyway - I believe, simply to cover their own backs and wash their hands of the situation. The problem now is that her 20 years of dedicated experience, with excellent feedback, is summed up in a reference simply saying she was dismissed. The union advised her not to challenge the dismissal at the time - I don't know why. This is obviously damaging her chances of finding another job. Is there any way this reference can be challenged or amended to at least provide some context two years on? I would be grateful for any advice.
Hello smooch, how awful for your friend 😞 a reference needs to be factually correct, which means it can be negative if that is a fact. Since she was dismissed they are allowed to state this in the reference.
There's nothing legally that can be done to challenge the reference since they are saying the truth but perhaps they may be willing to just state the dates she worked? Your friend would be relying on their goodwill as they don't have to agree to this either.
She needs to tell the recruiting company about the circumstances behind the dismissal (and show evidence of exonoration) before the references are requested so it can be taken into account.
That may mean a rejection prior to references being rejected but that’s fine; many companies would still hire her anyway.
It is factually correct to say she was dismissed for gross misconduct- she can’t challenge them for being truthful. The burden of proof required to fairly dismiss someone isn’t anything like as stringent as what is required to prosecute, so it’s not unusual for someone to be dismissed for something even though a criminal prosecution is dropped.
Is there a manager she used to work with who would be prepared to give her a reference?
Thanks all for the advice. Yes she has obtained personal references from ex colleagues but the work reference is currently proving quite a barrier. I think being upfront with recruiters and hoping they see her side of the story is her best hope.