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Providing a Job Reference

An agreement may be negotiated to provide future job references for the discharged computer professional. These references would typically outline the jobs held along with the associated responsibilities performed on the job. 

Reference letters may leave the employer vulnerable to legal claims such as:

  • Defamation for providing false or damaging information that inhibits a former employee from reemployment.

  • Negligence when the former employer fails to provide all relevant reference information, whether it is good or bad.

  • Invasion of privacy for the disclosure of private information.

  •  Unlawful discrimination when an allegation is made by the fired IT employee that a negative reference was given because the former employee had complained about unlawful actions by the employer while under their employment.

  • Violations of law based on the employer preventing the fired employee from gaining employment.

One of the safest ways to avoid liability when giving references is to provide the fired employee with their previous job performance appraisals. These documents can then be used by the terminated employee as they wish, sending them out without any further involvement of the employer.

The employer has limited their exposure by only releasing previously compiled and acknowledged information. It is important that no individual other than the former employee receive the performance appraisals from the employer.

Employers may be protected against defamation claims associated with job references by qualified privilege. This legal doctrine is defined by the following principles:

  • The former employer acted in good faith while providing credible evidence for the reference.

  • There exists a common interest in the former employee, between the former employer and the recipient of the reference.

  • The former employer provides reference information strictly related to the common interest of the reference provider and the recipient.

The doctrine of qualified privilege is viable if the former employer is fully truthful in providing the reference, and gathers the information in an organized, professional, and objective manner.

The above book excerpt is from:

You're Fired! Firing Computer Professionals

The IT manager Guide for Terminating "With Cause"

ISBN 0-9744486-4-8

Robert Papaj

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