Two words in an employment reference check cost millions

by on April 30, 2010 · 6 Comments POSTED IN: HR Cafe
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Be very careful when dealing with employment references or it can cost your company a boatload of cash

OMG. When contacted for an job reference about a former employee, a manager said the worker had “mental issues.”

The man didn’t get the new job. But when he sued the original employer, he did get something: a jury award of $2.4 million in damages.

Managers with feet in mouth
This recent case underlines the need to have and enforce a proper employee policy on responding to reference checks. When any and every manager feels free to spout off to potential new employers, trouble is just around the corner.

You needn’t go beyond the name-rank-serial number policy of verifying only that the person worked for you. But if you choose to be more helpful to future employers, you should:

  • Ask departing employees to sign a release allowing you to respond to questions asked by potential new employers.
  • Establish a single point of contact – ideally HR – for references. Let everyone else know not to comment.
  • Provide only accurate and verifiable information, and only to parties with a need to know.

Cite: Raedle v. Credit Agricole, 04-cv-2235, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan)

photo credit: TheGiantVermin

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6 Comments on This Post

  1. thehrguy
    May 4, 2010 - 12:08 pm

    It's another example of the old expression: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

  2. thehrguy
    May 4, 2010 - 12:08 pm

    It's another example of the old expression: If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.

  3. feed up hr lady
    May 24, 2010 - 6:10 pm

    you do need to go past the rank and serial number response as that can get you in MAJOR trouble also. Like HRGuy stated if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. If it is not true and factual and you can not back it up then don’t say it. But if it is true and documentated then let them know.

  4. feed up hr lady
    May 24, 2010 - 6:10 pm

    you do need to go past the rank and serial number response as that can get you in MAJOR trouble also. Like HRGuy stated if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all. If it is not true and factual and you can not back it up then don’t say it. But if it is true and documentated then let them know.

  5. feed up hr lady
    May 24, 2010 - 2:10 pm

    you do need to go past the rank and serial number response as that can get you in MAJOR trouble also. Like HRGuy stated if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all. If it is not true and factual and you can not back it up then don't say it. But if it is true and documentated then let them know.

  6. feed up hr lady
    May 24, 2010 - 2:10 pm

    you do need to go past the rank and serial number response as that can get you in MAJOR trouble also. Like HRGuy stated if you don't have something nice to say don't say anything at all. If it is not true and factual and you can not back it up then don't say it. But if it is true and documentated then let them know.

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