Can Truth be told to Employers When Reference on Former Employees is sought?

Debate on this question (issue) now seems eternal. Employers usually hesitate to provide additional information to other employers about their former employees. Generally, they believe that confirming the term (duration) of service is enough for reference or may be is exactly what is sought. The cause of hesitation is genuine – fear of getting sued. One should get in contact with a good lawyer or attorney to get out of this judicial problem.

Indeed, judicial law in almost every country tries those who defame others. However, the case of employee reference is not exactly the same. The facts that have been documented about an employee can be forwarded to others and there could hardly be a country that punishes its citizens for truth. Most employers and organisations maintain logs of employees’ data such as attendance, performance, appraisals, complaints from or against him, etc. Those are hard facts for which the employer has evidence. Hence, there is no harm in revealing these information to another employer. In fact, in a way, the better practice is to provide all relevant information about the former employee to another employer. The assistance of an employer to another for hiring of an appropriate employee completely fits into corporate or business integrity.

The extent to which an employer wants to elaborate as reference on former employees is totally at his discretion. If he thinks certain facts might jeopardise the future or selection of the former employee and does not want so to happen, he may not reveal deeper facts to the concerned employer.

However, the condition is ironical. While some employers steer away from revealing documented negative aspects, others cross the boundary to outright risk the careers of former employees. This is where they put themselves against the line of law. Explicit statement of suspicion such as forgery, plagiarism, physical relationship with any or many colleagues, etc. are often made by HRs at the former organisation. Such claims, unless supported by evidence or witnesses, can be sued. Moreover, too much or too explicit a statement seems to impress negativity on the other employer regarding the former employer. To remain safe one should always be in contact with a good lawyer or attorney.

An opinion is a gray statement and its fate cannot be ascertained. Statement like “He just could not deliver enough”, “she had a lousy attitude”, etc. is the former employer’s own opinion and not mentioned as fact. While such statement may be relatively safer to be made, it is best to avoid them unless personal opinion is sought.

Author Bio: Tim Galoger, works as a marketing consultant for Law Office of Walt Blenner ( and he is an author of many articles related to law and personal injury.

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