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Can giving a poor reference come back to haunt you?

Can giving a poor reference come back to haunt you?
Richard Rowell
Written by
Saturday, 09 October 2010 23:00

The answer is possibly yes.

Recently a firm of solicitors who gave an employee a poor reference have been found to be liable for not only future loss of earnings but injury to her feelings as well.

In the case of Bullimore v Pothecary Witham Weld, Bullimore had been offered a job by another firm of solicitors Sebastians. That offer of employment was withdrawn due to an unfavourable reference from her previous employer.

The reference itself had referred to Bullimore's

  • poor relationship with colleagues
  • inflexible opinion
  • proceedings against the company of unfair dismissal and sex discrimination following the termination of her employment.

In 2009 the original tribunal found that the firm of solicitors were not liable for loss of earnings. They were liable for injury to feelings though.

At appeal Bullimore fought the failure to make any award in respect of loss of earnings and the quantification of the award for injury to feelings.

The outcome was that both the original and prospective employers were found liable for loss of earnings due to the tribunal finding that the reference was an act of victimisation as it was damaging and negative.

The case was remitted back to the same tribunal to carry out an assessment of the parties' respective culpability and their degree of responsibility for the loss suffered.

Richard Rowell

Richard is the managing director of Dataplan Payroll Limited and is also responsible for the ideas and development of Dataplan's innovative technology solutions such as ePaysafe.

More blog posts: Employment Status »

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