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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 62443
Experience:  Qualified Employment Solicitor
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I was bullied in my last job annd suspect my ex empoyer has

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I was bullied in my last job annd suspect my ex empoyer has given me a a bad reference.
JA: Have you discussed this with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?
Customer: I loosely discussed it with my manager before I left. She said it is illegal to give a bad reference. This is clearly wrong.
JA: What is your employment status? Are you an employee, freelancer, consultant or contractor? Do you belong to a union?
Customer: Ex employee waiting to start a new job, subject to references. I did belong to a union but they were of limited use.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: No

Hello, my name is***** am a qualified lawyer and I will be assisting you with your question today.

When did you leave your last job and what is your specific question in relation to this please?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
I left at the beginning of August. I am waiting for references to go through. I might be wrong but the seemed to be stalling. Now there is a possibility that they have given a bad reference. HR at the new employers have referred it to my new line manager for approval

Thank you. I will get back to you with my answer as soon as I can, which will be at some point today. The system will notify you when this happens. Please do not reply in the meantime as this may unnecessarily delay my response. Many thanks.

Many thanks for your patience. First of all it is certainly not illegal to give a bad reference so that advice is wrong. An employer is entirely free to give a bad reference as long as the contents of the reference are factually correct. So a bad reference cannot be given only if the contents of the reference are false, but if they reflect reality, then it is perfectly legal to give a bad reference.

You can try and ask for a copy of the reference as you have the right to do so under the GDPR – the new data protection law. So if you know that a reference has been issued you can contact the party that has issued it or the one that has received it and advise them that you are asking for a copy of it under a subject access request in accordance with data protection rules.

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.

There are various options available for taking this further all of which would be pursued in the civil courts and would generally seek compensation:

· Defamation – if the reference tends to lower the subject’s reputation in the estimation of right-thinking members of society generally. However, such claims are rather complex and expensive and are not usually the best option

· Malicious falsehood - if the reference contains untrue words that were published maliciously, so a situation where the employer knew the contents were untrue and published them anyway

· Negligent misstatement – simple negligence where the employer has failed to do their homework and has included inaccurate facts without checking their validity first.

Does this answer your query?

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
thanks. The final straw came when I was given a rollicking for having breached health and safety regulations. I had warned them in writing on 2 or 3 previous occasions ( in writing ) that this was likely to happen, but was ignored. I suspect negligent misstatement is the way forward.

It may indeed be but it is best to try and get a copy of the reference first to know exactly what you are dealing with.

Ben Jones and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you

All the best