Ex-boss Gives Bad Reference

Question:

My ex-boss seems to have told agencies some very negative things about me. Some of them are lies, and some is exaggerated. What should I do? I tried talking to him but it seems it’s made it worse. I’m having trouble getting work. I really need his reference.

Signed,

Need Good References


Answer:

Dear Need Good References:

I’m sorry that you are having trouble getting a job. From what little you say, I gather your working relationship with your former boss was not a happy one and I assume you either quit or were fired. I expect you want to paint a positive work history and not have employment agencies and future employers doubt your honesty and question your ability. My foremost advice is to tell the truth. If you were fired, don’t say you quit. If you had a run in with a former boss, don’t say that she/he loved the way you worked. And my second most advice, is don’t badmouth a former employer or boss. If you left fired or quit as a result of an unfavorable situation and think you won’t get a good reference from a former boss, seek someone else who knows you well to serve as a reference.

What can you do to stop the negative things said to agencies? If they are lies you should document what these agencies were told by your former boss. Get the exact words in writing, who said what and when they were said and to whom they were said. Former bosses and employers can report how they evaluated your work, but if they lie, that is against the law. And you should take such documentation to an attorney, preferably one who specialized in employee labor law to learn what is in your best interest. A short consultation often is free and if an attorney thinks you have a winnable case for slander, she/he might take your case on a contingency basis. Possibly, the attorney will recommend that a letter to the former boss is all that would be needed to stop lies about you. Or the attorney might say that you don’t have sufficient evidence of slander or harm done you and that the best thing you can do is to ignore it and put it in the past by getting more training and education; skills that would make you more able to get a job.

An excellent article by Alison Doyle, About.com Guide explains what Ex-employers can ane should not say about you.

“There are no federal laws restricting what information an employer can disclose about former employees. If you were fired or terminated from employment, the company can say so. They can also give a reason. For example, if someone was fired for stealing or falsifying a time sheet, they can explain why the employee was terminated.

“That said, because of laws regarding defamation (which is slander or libel) companies are usually careful about what information they provide to hiring managers confirming employment or checking references. What they say has to be the truth or the company can be subject to a lawsuit from the former employee. Legally, they can say anything that is factual and accurate.

“Concern about lawsuits is why most employers only confirm dates of employment, your position, and salary. State labor laws vary, so check your state labor department website for information on state labor laws that limit what employers can disclose about former employees.”

Doyle continues to suggest tha it is wise to check on you’re your fomer employer will disclosel “If you have been fired or terminated, check with your former employer and ask what information they will give out when they get a call to verify your work history. If they do give out more information than the basics, what they say may be negotiable and it can’t hurt to ask.

“When you left under difficult circumstances, you could ask someone you know to call and check your references, that way you’ll know what information is going to come out. Or, you can also use a reference checking service to check on what will be disclosed to future employers.

“It’s important that your story and your former employer’s story match. If you say you were laid-off and the company says you fired, you’re not going to get the job.

“Also, not telling the truth during the application process can get you fired at any time in the future – even years after you were hired. That’s because most job applications have a section where you verify the information is accurate.” http://jobsearch.about.com/od/backgroundcheck/f/whatemployerscansay.htm I hope these thoughts help you to start anew. Today even with good references it is not always easy to get a new job. I hope you can hang in there and not sour on life in general. Most of all don’t become obsessed and allow what has happened to fill your head with negative talk. Focus on the positive. Use this time well. Keep applying. Stay in touch with former friends. Study to improve your skills. Stay in shape. Look good. And seek out ways to make a contribution; possibly by volunteering to help those less fortunate. I wish you well and that you can put the past to the past. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS. Is that something that was absent in your former workplace? Was it partly your fault? If so, learn from this unhappy experience. You should know that you are not the first one to be out of work as a result of an unhappy situation, one that might have been partly their fault. And some of those individuals have been resilient and come back to make their next work experience a good one.

William Gorden