Discrimination and Victimisation
Your previous employer may be acting unfairly if the reason you received a poor reference is because of one of the “protected characteristics” outlined in the Equality Act 2010. This can be race, sex, sexual orientation, or disability, for example. If you received a poor reference because of this, you may have grounds for a claim for Direct Discrimination in the Employment Tribunal.
Also, under the Equality Act, you may also be able to make a claim if your employer or former employer has given a bad reference as an act of Victimisation because you did what is called “a protected act”. This includes: (1) bringing a claim under the Equality Act 2010; (2) giving evidence or information in connection with proceedings under the Equality Act 2010; (3) done any other thing for the purposes of or in connection with the Equality Act 2010 or (4) made an allegation that your employer or former employer have contravened the Equality Act.
- These are claims brought before an Employment Tribunal and we can assist with these types of claims. Call us on 0800 612 9509 or fill in our contact form and we will get back to you.
Employee Reference Defamation
Defamation, also referred to as slander or libel, is the act of damaging the reputation of someone. This can be said about incorrect or false statements contained within your reference.
Defamation claims are difficult to prove and largely depend on the circumstances surrounding the claim. You must prove that your employer provided a poor or false reference with malicious intent. If the reference was provided without malice and your employer believed the contents of the reference to be true (even if they are untrue), then they can’t be successfully sued for defamation.
If your claim for defamation is, however, successful, you could be entitled to compensation for financial loss and emotional distress.
- Please note that this is a civil claim, not an Employment Tribunal claim. We do not deal with these types of claims.
Does an Employer have to provide a reference?
An employer is under no legal obligation to give a former employee a job reference at all. Therefore, if your employer refuses to give a reference, they are well within their rights to not provide you with one.
However, if they do provide a reference, they are under a legal duty to not give a false reference. This is why many employers only provide factual references stating the name, job title and dates of employment. They do this in order to avoid being held liable for any inaccurate more detailed job references.
Can you sue someone for giving you a bad reference?
If your employer provides an inaccurate or negligent job reference, you can sue them to recover damages. This claim would be brought in the County Court, NOT the Employment Tribunal.
In order for the claim to be successful, you must have suffered a financial loss. An example of this would be if you failed to get a new job because of the bad reference and subsequently lost the income that your new job would have provided.
- Legal Aid may be available to assist you to pursue such a claim.
Before any claim can be brought forward, you need to obtain a copy of the offending reference or the detail of an oral one.
You may wish to make a Data Protection Act or Subject Access Request to secure this information from either the provider of the reference or the recipient. More information can be obtained from the ICO website. Though, this has been made all the more difficult by virtue of a change in the law which suggests that references are not disclosable.
How may we assist you?
Our law firm can deal with any Employment Tribunal Claims.
Whilst we do not ordinarily undertake litigation in the Civil Courts, we may be able to assist you on a No Win No Fee basis by sending a pre-action protocol letter before action to see if it is possible to settle any such claim without the need for you to issue proceedings in the Civil Courts.
Call us on 0800 612 9509 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can complete one of our contact forms.