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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 48162
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor - Please start your question with 'For Ben Jones'
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I was employed as a social worker years by a local authority.

Resolved Question:

I was employed as a social worker for 8 years by a local authority. I have never had any capability or conduct issues. I was bullied by a manager and I have through subject access request seen a reference that he has produced which is blatantly untrue. He has made comments such as I present myself as emotionally vulnerable in order to get my own way. He comments that dishonesty within the team increased during the time I was there, that colleagues and others.made complaints against me. I have never been aware of this.all my other reference s have been excellent. During the first grievance meeting it has been agreed that a new reference will be be negotiated. However this reference has already prevented.me from getting jobs.
Would I be able to seek any compensation from my former employer for the injury to.my emotional health, my professional reputation, and the loss of my career
I would be grateful for advice
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ben Jones replied 2 years ago.
Ben Jones :

Hello, my name is ***** ***** it is my pleasure to assist you with your question today.

Whilst there is no legal obligation on employers to provide a reference for past employees, if they choose to do so they will automatically owe them a duty to take reasonable care in its preparation. This requires the employer to be accurate in the contents of the reference and ensure it is based on facts, rather than just personal opinion.

Certain principles have been established through case law over the years and the main points can be summarised as follows:

1. In the case of Bartholomew v London Borough of Hackney the employer provided a reference which contained details of disciplinary proceedings which were pending at the time the employee left. The court decided that the employer had not breached its duty of care by providing such a reference as it would have a duty to provide a reference that is true, accurate and fair and does not present facts so as to give a misleading impression overall. Therefore, if the employer had not included details of the disciplinary proceedings it would have failed in its duty to the prospective employer to provide a reference that was not unfair or misleading.

2. In the later case of Cox v Sun Alliance Life Ltd the employer provided a reference that contained details of an employee's alleged misconduct. However, they did not properly investigate these before providing the reference and the employee challenged the information in it. The court decided that an employer will be negligent in providing a reference that refers to an employee’s misconduct unless the employer had carried out an investigation and had reasonable grounds for believing that the misconduct had taken place. This can be applied to other matters forming part of a reference, not just issues of misconduct.

So if it is obvious that incorrect facts have been relied on, the contents are false or misleading, there may be a potential case for negligence against the employer and this matter could be taken further by seeking compensation in the county court for any damages caused. You cannot seek compensation for emotional distress and can only pursue them for actual losses incurred.


Ben Jones :

I hope this clarifies your position? If you could please quickly let me know that would be great, as it is important for us to keep track of customer satisfaction. Thank you

Customer:

Ok thanks can I seek compensation for deformation of character?

Customer:

Can I seek compensation for deformation of character?

Ben Jones :

this is very expensive and complex to pursue, you re looking at spending thousands just to bring the claim to the courts - best not to go down that route

Customer:

I now have to travel a 100 miles to work every day as I can no longer work within devon and I have done nothing wrong it seems unfair that I am unable to seek any financial compensation

Ben Jones :

I did not say you cannot seek compensation? You can for loss of earnings if you can show that the reference mad you miss out on a job for example

Customer:

Ok I see . Well the reference has lost me 3 job opportunities so far

Ben Jones :

that is what you can claim for but it would be the difference of that job and the current one you hold

Customer:

Ok thank you that has been really helpful

Ben Jones :

you are most welcome

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