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Ben Jones
Ben Jones, UK Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 50177
Experience:  Qualified Solicitor
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My daughter got her dream job with British Airways as a cabin

crew. She had to provide... Show More
crew. She had to provide five years employment history for references. Her first job was seasonal in a fish and chip shop whilst she was at college. His reference that he sent to BA indicated that she stole from him and that she was a thief. This is untrue, he never confronted or said anything to my daughter indicating this and nor did he involve the police. This has caused BA to reject her offer of employment. Where do we stand legally as this is a a false and serious lie?
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Ben Jones :

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

Ben Jones :

Was she dismissed from that job?

Customer: No she had just received her offer of employment pending references and CRB check, she was dismissed one week before her start date.
Ben Jones :

Sorry I meant the job where she was accused of stealing?

Customer: Oh sorry she was a waitress at a fish and chip shop and no she was never dismissed she just left as she was at college. He never said anything to her about stealing from him.
Ben Jones :

ok thanks let me get my response ready please

Ben Jones :

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. However, in your daughter’s case there was no indication at all that she may have been guilty of the allegations and no formal procedure had been instigated at the time.


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.


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.

Customer: Seems that is the case for abby then where do we go from here. This is the first that we have ever heard that he indicated that my daughter stole from hi
Customer: Sorry pressed the button too quickly, she never stole from him this is a defamation of her character and has caused her to lose her dream job.
Ben Jones :

It can also be defamation but that is very complex and expensive and unrealistic to pursue so she should stick to pursuing it as negligence only

Ben Jones :

Please let me know if this has answered your original question or if you need me to clarify anything else for you in relation to this? Thanks

Customer: Ok so negligence only then, yes you have answered my question then where do we go from here?
Ben Jones :

in what respect?

Customer: Well we would like to put a case for negligence against this employer is that something you do or do we need to find a local solicitor or go to our citizens advice bureau?
Ben Jones :

No we do not do that unfortunately, we only discuss your legal position online, what you do after that is up to you. A claim would be submitted in the local county court, you can contact them to get a claim form or for the process. You do not need a solicitor, it is not a requirement and can save you costs if you make the claim yourselves.

Customer: Thank you for your help
Ben Jones :

You are most welcome

Customer: We tried contacting our local county court and they were unsure of the type of claim form that we required. They suggested we get in touch with a solicitor to sort this all out. Do you know the actual document number that we would require?
Ben Jones :

Hi, it would be the general claim form N1 and then you will be pleading a claim for negligence and pursuing compensation for damages incurred as a result of their actions. Try to resolve it directly with the employer first though, advise them what happened, what compensation you require and threaten legal proceedings, then only sue if you cannot resolve it that way.

Has this answered your follow up query?

Customer: Thank you Ben.