Providing references for former employees can be problematic. For example, if an employer makes negative statements about a former employee that are not absolutely true, the employer could be liable for defamation. For this reason, some employers provide only minimal information, such as dates of employment, job title, and salary. While such a policy creates consistency, it does not allow an employer to brag on a spectacular employee or warn another company about a poor one.
For an employer who desires more flexibility when providing references, Dallas employment lawyer Keith Clouse provides the following suggestions:
• To ensure consistency, designate one person to provide references.
• Maintain written records of each request and response.
• Provide all references in writing to ensure a written record. Marking references “private and confidential” informs others that the references should not be disclosed to third parties.
• Only report facts that can be easily documented. This will help an employer avoid a potential defamation lawsuit.
• Avoid giving a positive recommendation when it is undeserved. Companies have been sued for providing falsely positive references when the person hired later committed a crime or other offense.
• Warn departing employees when a positive reference will not be given.
• Consider asking departing employees to sign a release giving the employer permission to provide information to prospective employers without concurring liability.
For further advice from an employment lawyer regarding this subject, contact the employment law attorneys at Clouse Dunn Khoshbin LLP at [email protected]