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.