I wrote a BLOG on the 11th March 2011 – http://www.morganmcmanussolicitors.com/blog/?p=48 – titled The obligation to provide an accurate Reference and to have a consistent Policy in issuing References.
I`m grateful to Pat Brady of Workplace Solutions – www.workplacesolutions.ie – for bringing the case of McKie v Swindon College – http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2011/469.html – to my attention. This relates to a Reference emailed to a new employer by a previous employer 3 weeks after the employee had commenced employment with the new employer. The email stated : “Further to our telephone conversation I can confirm to you that we would be unable to accept Rob McKie on our premises or delivering to our students. The reason for this is that we had very real safeguarding concerns for our students and there were serious staff relationship problems during his employment at this College. No formal action was taken against Mr McKie because he had left our employment before this was instigated. understand that similar issues arose at the City of Bath College.”
The Reference was, in the Court`s view, written in very damaging terms in circumstances where the Court was of the view that the previous employer was guilty of negligent misstatement. As a result of the Reference the new employer disciplined and summarily dismissed the employee. All of this arose from, in the Court`s view, the negligent Reference given by the previous employer and the Court made an Award of Damages against the previous employer.
Employers need to be extremely careful when asked to give References about previous employees.