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Employers warned over damaging references

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Employers must do all they can to avoid future legal action caused by less than flattering references, a current legal case has shown.

Claimant Ms Bullimore launched a claim against her former employers after one boss took the decision to detail in her employment reference that she was “inflexible” and had a history as trouble maker.

When Ms Bullimore was not appointed to a job she applied, a Tribunal found that prospective employers had been directly influenced in their decision by the disparaging reference, not only by the negative tone but by a perception that she would cause hassle.

Both the former and prospective employers were found jointly liable to compensate Ms Bullimore for injury to her feelings and for the loss of earnings she incurred.

The two incidents of discrimination, one during employment and the other related to the giving of the reference, were inextricably linked, the tribunal found.

While employers are not legally obliged to provide a reference to former employees, in general it is considered good practice and past employees may depend on such grace for future work.

As a result, references should be approached with caution. While words may come easily for those who have fulfilled their duties and excelled in the workplace, the dangers surrounding negative references and legal actions that may follow must be considered.

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Written by Andrew Hodges

October 4, 2010 at 2:30 pm

Posted in Comment, LinkedIn

Tagged with , ,

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