An employer is under no legal obligation to give a former employee a job reference at all. However, if they do give a reference, they are under a legal duty to give an accurate one. This is why many employers only provide factual references stating the name, job tile and dates of employment only to avoid being held liable for any inaccurate more detailed job references.
If an employer gives an inaccurate or negligent job reference, the employee can sue their former employer to recover damages. This claim is brought in the County Court NOT the Employment Tribunal. The former employee must have suffered financial loss ie. that the ex-employee failed to get a new job because of the bad reference and lose the income that new job would have provided. Legal Aid may be available to assist you pursue such a claim.
Before any such claim can be entertained you really 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 informatin can be obtained from the ICO website.
How may we assist you?
Whilst we do not ordinarily undertake litigation in the Civil Courts, we may be able to assist you on a No Win Non Fee basis by sending a pre-action protocol letter before action to see if it is possible to settle any 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 or complete one of our Contact Forms.