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Question
As human resource manager, I screen all references that we receive for applicants or newly hired staff.  We will hire an individual on a contingency basis with one reference received while waiting for the second.  In this case, the first reference came back just confirming dates of employment. The second was very negative regarding her attitude and performance.  I told the applicant that we received this reference which was signed, and what the criticism of her was.  I told her that we would allow her to work on probationary status as long as she signed a counseling form that she understood that if any of this negative behavior became evident during her employment with us, she would be terminated.  She did not deny the contents of the bad reference and said she would sign whatever she had to and promised we would never have any problems with her.  One of the snakes in my office overheard my conversation and reported me for opening my company to a law suit because I repeated the information.  I work in New York.  I cannot imagine why discussing a poor reference with someone would be illegal or place my company in jeopardy.  Can you clarify for me.  Thank you so much.  I apologize for the length of this question.

Answer
Judy:
Sorry for the delay in responding but have been down with the Flu.
Our society has become so litigious that anyone can sue anybody for anything these days. Your current policies i.e. probationary period etc. are more than ample to deal with problems like this.  You should NOT have shared this with the candidate as you have no evidence to substantiate the validity of the reference (there are at least two sides to every story).  Now, having said that, the negative reference can be helpful in monitoring any potential issues nut not to be used as a bat to set a negative tone on the new relationship.  Unless this negative behavior occurs in your firm and is witnessed and documented it is only hearsay (i.e. one persons word against another. You cannot counsel on what doesn't officially exist.
The rat you refer to is also a part of the problem you face.  A TEAM worker would have talked with you about the situation as a "heads Up.
Hope this helps
Jim

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Jim Dromsky

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I can answer questions relating to Management/Executive recruitment, retention and development. How to's relating to Organizational Development, Training, Succession planning, Management assessment and when to go outside instead of promoting from within. Additionally, questions on performance based compensation incentives, employment law, harassment, etc.

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James Dromsky is Founder and CEO of Orion Consulting, Inc. During his twenty-five year career he has conducted and managed Executive Search and Human Resources consulting engagements in the Consumer Products, Electronics/Computer, Financial Services, Information Services, Chemical, Pharmaceutical, Transportation and DOD related industries. Prior to founding Orion Consulting, Inc., Mr. Dromsky functioned as Engagement Manager and Consultant for regional and national Search and Consulting Firms. He has successfully completed Search assignments for positions including President, General Manager, Vice President Operations, Vice President Finance/CFO, Vice President Marketing/Sales, Vice President Manufacturing, Vice President Engineering, Vice President R&D, Vice President Human Resources as well as Managerial, Supervisory and Professional Direct Contributor positions in all functional areas. As President of Orion Consulting for the past 23 years, Mr. Dromsky is directly involved in and responsible for all Search and Consulting engagements. These engagements have ranged on the Search side from a single top management assignment for a start-up firm to a 75 hire multi-year reconstruction of a major appliance manufacturing concern. The Consulting engagements have ranged in scope from individual assignments such as a targeted salary survey; development and implementation of database applications for a H.R. Information System in the consulting industry; design and growth of a software development team for the information services arena to the conceptualization and installation of a complete corporate Human Resources function. Mr. Dromsky received his education in Biology and Chemistry from Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. In addition, he has taken graduate course work at the same university in the area of Business and Marketing. Mr. Dromsky served in the U.S. Navy, which included a tour of duty in Southeast Asia.

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Mr. Dromsky received his education in Biology and Chemistry from Rutgers, the state university of New Jersey. In addition, he has taken graduate course work at the same university in the area of Business and Marketing. Mr. Dromsky served in the U.S. Navy, which included a tour of duty in Southeast Asia.

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