Many thanks for your patience. The first thing to bear in mind is that it can be very difficult to prove that a negative reference is the cause of this, if you do not have a copy of it. Whilst there is nothing stopping you from asking any of the employers involved if they have received a negative reference about you, they do not have to tell you and neither would they be obliged to send you a copy if they have. So taking this further without any hard evidence will be almost impossible, so you need to find a way to get some evidence that such references are indeed being sent out.
As far as the law stands, if an employer decides to issue a reference, they will automatically owe the subject 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 true, accurate and fair and does not provide a misleading impression.
Certain principles have been established through case law over the years when assessing the duty of care owed by the employer. The main test is from the case of Lawton v BOC Transhield, which requires a court to ask whether a reasonably prudent employer would have expressed the opinions which were stated in that particular reference and to ensure the accuracy of the facts upon which any opinion expressed in the reference was based.
So if it is obvious that incorrect facts have been relied on or the contents are false or misleading, the employee could consider taking the matter further.
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