What to do with a Bad Reference
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Last Updated on February 2, 2021 by George

What to do with a bad reference

You may think that a previous employer cannot give you a bad reference, as it is illegal. But you would be wrong, to find out the facts, read more….

Not every previous employer will have nice things to say about you. A negative or misleading reference can knock a potential candidate out of contention for a permanent job offer.

So pre-screening your reference to ensure a bad reference does not sabotage your job search is advisable.

It is always good to request a reference by email, as it can be considered objectively without the pressure of a face to face interaction or telephone call.

This is important to give the person an out so that they don’t feel obligated to provide a statement which is less than favourable.

Always a good idea to provide information that outlines your case in advance, to potential reference givers and ask if they are in a position to support your candidacy by providing a positive recommendation.

Can my employer give me a bad reference? Yes and No?

If you think the statements made are misleading, untrue and believe it could harm your future employment unfairly.

You may be able to sue for ‘negligent misstatement’, but it always a good idea to first seek an amicable way to resolve the issue.

Just have to be accurate and truthful, as an example,

if you were disciplined in your last job, your employer could mention this on your reference as long as it was properly investigated at the time.

If there was no case to answer then an employer is not obligated to mention it, as this would be misleading and potentially giving you a bad reference by doing so.

Most employers rather than give a bad reference because anything considered not 100% accurate could be grounds for legal action.

will often just give the basic facts about your employment rather than focusing on a character reference.

What can I do if a previous employer provides a bad reference?

Whether you’re graduate an unemployed, with no experience or a professional looking for a career break.

To address the issue of a bad reference and to be able to sue for ‘negligent misstatement’.

You must show that:

Your employer was negligent in providing a bad statement.

The information in the reference is misleading.

Providing this misleading information has had a negative effect on your future employment.

If you think there is an element of discrimination involved in your former employer. Providing you with a bad reference, you can bring this to an employment tribunal.

You must seek legal advice as soon as possible.

What if my employer refuses

It is not an uncommon situation for a former to refuse to give a reference if this occurs, it may make your potential new employer uncomfortable.

Especially if they gave you a conditional offer based on a satisfactory or good reference.

Some companies are increasingly refusing to give references because they’re worried about legal action so be mindful of that aspect.

If however, you provide the potential new employer with a list of references who all wish to provide a good reference which will satisfy the company, then they may not worry about one being refused.

Verify your employer

If you think one of your former employers will provide you with a good reference and the job either ended badly or on uncertain ground, here are some things that you can do;

Have a friend pose as a prospective employer and call human resources. Department to confirm your employment and get a sense of what kind of employee you were.

If the company has no such department; Have your friend call your old boss instead. It helps to have a script ready to use.

Although the tactic has a sneaky element to it, a former employer has nothing to lose. You, on the other hand, stand to lose future job offers.

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