Employment References: What Employers Should Know Before Providing Feedback For Former Employees

In general, employers are not legally prohibited from providing true information about a former employer to a new company they are applying to. The law provides protection from providing honest feedback about work performance of those who worked for them. However, a line can be crossed if a former employer is misrepresentative about that person's work performance or is dishonest about reference information. Doing so can result in a defamation lawsuit if you are found to be untruthful about your former employees. The following are some things to consider when providing information on past employees:

Will the Employee Know You Provided Misrepresentative Information?

In many cases, it is hard for an applicant to find out why he or she did not get a job offer. Employers do not always respond to job applicants that they chose not to hire. If the do decide to respond, their answers for not hiring is short and free of any major details. This will often result in the applicant not having any information that was provided by a former employer.

However, there may be some times when a new employer will share the information with the applicant. He or she then will have the information and determine the validity. If the information is truthful, the former employer will be protected by law. Only proven false information can be used in a defamation case. If you have absolute proof that the former employer is not being honest about you, you should contact an attorney. 

What Questions Are Typically Asked When Calling References?

Because of the risk of defamation lawsuits, many human resources departments choose to adopt policies that require management to provide only the most basic information when responding to reference requests. Some companies often choose to provide no more than basic employment verification including start and end dates of employment of their former employees.

There is a drawback to these policies, however. It can limit positive references for those employees who had outstanding work performance and clean work history that would otherwise appreciate that information to be shared with a potential employer. Also, prospective employers may see the lack of a great reference if they do not share the same

When you are asked for a reference for a former employee, always be truthful in what information you provide. Not being honest can result in major legal issues between your business and former employees.

To learn more, contact an employment law firm like John Franco Law