Many take for granted that they will get a decent reference from their previous employer. They also take for granted that the reference will be accurate and fair. But these two statements have not always borne true.
Over the years employers who give inaccurate references have been penalised through the outcomes of various court cases in favour of the employee. Another case, just reported, has made it even more perilous for employers.
In Bullimore v. Pothecary Witham Weld Solicitors and another, the Employment Appeals Tribunal found that an employer who victimised a former employee by providing a poor reference was liable to compensate that employee for future loss of earnings when their offer of employment was subsequently withdrawn after the reference was received.
The Tribunal found it was "evidently foreseeable" that the new employer would react in the way it did.
So by all means take a pop at your former employees, but expect to pay heavily for the privilege.
This was first published in November 2010