Unfair references can prove costly for employers

Employers who unfairly give former employees bad references could face expensive compensation claims, warns a Lancashire employment solicitor.

In a recent case an employer provided an unfavourable reference as a result of an employee’s involvement in a complaint of discrimination. The Court of Appeal ruled that the reference amounted to post termination victimisation, which is unlawful under the Equality Act 2010.

Emma Newbould, employment solicitor at Forbes Solicitors, said: “Employers must be extremely careful when drafting references. To do so carelessly could give rise to expensive employment tribunal claims. If in doubt, employers should keep references brief and factual, with details of an employee’s name, job title and dates of employment only.” When drafting references, employers are also under a duty to take reasonable care to ensure they are true, accurate, fair and not misleading. Any failure to do so could result in claims being brought by either an employee or their new employer.