Human Resources/Bad reference

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Question
QUESTION: What are the laws and loopholes refering to past employers and what they can say negatively about past employees?

ANSWER: Hello James,

Thanks for your question James.  Here you go.

Employers who have their act together use application form(s) with multiple releases, usually small print on the bottom of the form.  These releases, which you are usually required to sign, grant the employer permission to seek out prior employment history and reference information based on the permissions given in the release language.

Absent the release language, prior employers can only legally verify the information you have provided on the application, e.g. address, employment history, etc.

Loop holes (all illegal). (1) These can include your future (interviewing manager, interviewing HR/Personnel person) employer making “confidential” calls to your past employers and convincing a past employer to talk about, off the record, your overall performance/attendance/attitude/etc. during your employment there. (2) You past employer(s) are ignorant of the law or just doesn’t care and provide whatever you future employer asks.

Sophisticated employers do not need to stoop to illegal ways of finding out the potentially undesirable and behavior flaws of candidates and future employees.  There are great tools out there to sift through candidate competencies, skills and behaviors through resume/CV clearing houses, e-tools, and structured, advanced interviewing techniques.  Of course not all employers are sophisticated… and interviewing quality is only as good as the leader/manager’s interviewing knowledge and skills

Information on behavioral interviews and questions: https://biginterview.com/blog/behavioral-interview-questions

Good luck to you James !!!

Mark  


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: No I was asking about past employers, not the new potential employer. Assuming the new employer can ask the old employer about a past employee what bad are they allowed to say about someone? Lets say they don't like you as much as you thought when you included them as a reference, or they don't want you to move on to another job so they feel compelled to compromise you.

ANSWER: James,

Please read carefully... the answer re: past employers is below.  

Employers who have their act together use application form(s) with multiple releases, usually small print on the bottom of the form.  These releases, which you are usually required to sign, grant PAST employers permission to release prior employment history and reference information based on the permissions given in the release language.

Absent the release language, PAST employers can only legally verify the information you have provided on the application, e.g. address, employment history, etc.

Loop holes (all illegal). (1) These can include your future (interviewing manager, interviewing HR/Personnel person) employer making “confidential” calls to your PAST employers and convincing a PAST employer to talk about, off the record, your overall performance/attendance/attitude/etc. during your employment there. (2) Your PAST employer(s) are ignorant of the law or just doesn’t care and provide whatever you future employer asks.
Sophisticated employers do not need to stoop to illegal ways of finding out the potentially undesirable and behavior flaws from PAST employers.

My experience is employers don't "change their minds" about your work record and performance after you separate from employment. Usually, your work record and reputation is what it is.

Mark  


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Can a past employer legally say that someone is lazy, late to work often, and doesn't show urgency or ambition? Or must they only focus on the positive?

Answer
James,

As long as you signed a authorization for release of your performance related information, a past employer can legally share both positive and negative performance related information.  Performance can include, for example, quantity, quality of work, attitude, productivity, etc.

Mark

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Mark Eichinger

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Any type of question related to domestic and international Human Resources work. My H.R. passions include Compensation design and systems in competitive markets, Health and Safety in Industrial Environments, Performance Management, Talent Management (Hiring, Selection, Employee Development, Compensation, Creating Space, etc.), Communications, Coaching, Counseling, Leadership, and Management. Questions I cannot answer: I am sure there are questions within these categories that I may not be able to answer but my experience below would suggest those would be few.

Experience

I own International Human Resources Coaching and Consulting, LLC. www.IHRCConline.com. Previously, I successfully held corporate executive and management leadership positions from 1979 to 2007 in two $9B+ multi-national corporations. Positions included: Vice President, Human Resources for the Asia Pacific Region, Eaton Corporation; I was based in Shanghai, China. Prior to that assignment, Vice President, Human Resources International and Operations, Eaton World Headquarters, Cleveland, Ohio with global responsibility for Eaton’s Human Resources practices, international assignee management, and Regional Human Resources Directors in Asia Pacific, Europe, and Central and South America. Specifically, my experience spans work at domestic and international locations at the operating plant, division, business unit, and corporate levels and most business scenarios to include startups, closedowns, restructurings, integrations, and ongoing operations. I am an Eaton Business Excellence Assessment Examiner (Malcolm Baldrige based system). I introduced processes and process mapping into the Human Resources environment. I have extensive experience with and working in domestic and international organization matrix structures. In the Asia Pacific region, my responsibilities included, leading the regions H.R. team and processes, managing the H.R. relationship with the corporation, creating and leading the professional and general manager development programs, China’s university relations program and managing the Asia Pacific key leader’s process. I have coached managers and leaders. I am a professional listener, my style open, direct, and focused on leader accountability and employee engagement. In Summary, my career responsibility included more than 60,000 employees, 60 union and union free operations, and 45 countries. I also lived in Korea for two years while in service with the USA’s armed forces.

Organizations
SCORE – Counselors to Americas Small Business; at various locations I have also belonged to Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. I have served on Boards of medical, community and institutional organizations.

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, Youngstown State University. MBA work Youngstown State University, and University of Bridgeport. University of Tennessee, Lean Manufacturing Certified. Thunderbird School of Global Management, Management Certified.

Awards and Honors
Corporate level awards for compensation systems, communications campaigns.

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