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Avoiding the Pitfalls of Job References

A highly valued, long-time employee of yours decides to move out of state and asks you to write a reference letter. A no-brainer, right?

Then another employee, whom you’ve been trying to fire for the past few months, also asks you for a reference letter. Now what do you do?

Yes, you can be held liable for references – and whether you provide them or not. It’s possible you could open yourself up for discrimination or defamation charges if you write a letter for one employee but not another.

Often in seminars, I advise clients not to provide references at all. You’re under no obligation to do so, and the negative clearly outweighs the positive.

But a written policy must be established, and you must be consistent in following that policy. Many businesses simply provide dates of employment, which is a good practice.

Some employment attorneys recommend a signed waiver, where you only provide information under certain circumstances.

Consistency and communication are the key. Establish that policy, make sure all your employees understand it – and make sure you consistency follow that policy.

From Elarbee Thompson.


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Dave Berkus is an accomplished speaker, author and angel investor.  He provides common sense advice to all businesses through his blog, Berkonomics. His recent post deals with the frustrations of busi

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