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How do I get my ex-employer from giving me BAD references?


I did not get fired, I quit and gave proper notice. I frankly had enough of my managers behavior and needed to get out of that environment. I have learned that in Michigan, its legal to give negative references as long as there is documentation to back up thier claims. I worked their for 4 years, was promoted twice and I cannot simply not put this company in my resume. The last year I worked there was horrible beyond comprehension. I kept getting write ups and I couldn't figure out what I was doing and what I needed to change my behavior. I felt that it was a contructive discharge but I never could figure out a way to prove it. I went on alot of interviews and a couple of places said after the interview that I was hired as long as nothing came up in my refrence check, Apparently something did come up-the place were I work now was kind enought to show me. It's not a very good job but, I figure If I stick it out for a year I will get something better.

It IS legal to give negative refrences about an employee's work history. They can say ANYTHING they want in MICHIGAN as long as they can back it up with documentation. There is a release form you have to sign in order for the company you are applying at to check your refrences.

You should contact the head of HR at that company and tell them your story, and make it abundantly clear that if they don't cease and desist with the bad talk you WILL sue.

These days few employers badmouth ex-employees even when they ARE scum of the earth because they can get sued and will lose. Unless they can document it, and this usually means a successful criminal prosecution for something, they risk slander charges.

A lot of companies now only give vague references, like "yes she worked here for these dates and earned bla bla." They don't give good or bad anymore for fear of being sued.

If that doesn't stop it, contact a lawyer. For the price of a letter (probably a couple of hundred dollars), this will probably stop. Oh..and see if you can get a copy of what your current employer showed you. Give that to the lawyer.

Have you considered rewording your resume to indicate you left employment voluntarily?
Is it possible to remove the name of the company until they request a background check?
Can you get an employment verification letter from this previous employer, and use that as the employment reference?
Obviously all your learned in this previous position, and all the contribution is completely negated by the manner in which the relationship ended. Definitely seek out an employment counselor in your area (local workforce commission, alma mater, etc...) and have them help you write this experience positively.

They are only supposed to verify that you worked for the comapny, your title, and the dates you worked.

Giving bad references is illegal in most states.

I would consult with an employment attorney if you feel you're being blackballed.

previous employers can't give bad references. they can't just flat out say someone was a horrible worker.
a good reference would be that everything you did was perfection. so they could be just saying you were an average employee. which no companies would want average.

They, by law, can not give a BAD ref for you, they can say they dont want to comment other than verifiying that you worked there and that kind of stuff, but they cant say something bad!

As an employer in Michigan, he's right, we can tell the truth about former employees. We cannot slander or libel them but if we have proof we can offer up anything. That being said, your former employer is still not being smart by crossing that line. My company simply confirms dates of employment, title and whether or not you are eligible for rehire. That last one is key for a lot of people. I won't hire anyone who isn't eligible for rehire at their last position unless they gave me forewarning that I could expect a bad reference and a legitimate reason why I could expect a poor reference. You can send them a letter or have an attorney send a letter but the actual best tactic may be to explain to your interviewer exactly what you explained here with maybe a bit more detail of why you feel it was an unfair discharge. Be careful not to come across as whining about the situation though because it is another red flag for your interviewer.

I would NEVER hire someone with an unexplained four year gap in employment history. You wouldn't even get in the door for an interview with a four year gap in employment. It is hard enough to find work in Michigan with the state of the economy. Don't hurt yourself needlessly.

Someone else said you don't have to tell the truth 100% of the time. Guess what? You do. Check the paperwork you signed for your employer. Falsifying an application, etc. is usually grounds for immediate termination and you won't get unemployment either. Lots of employers keep that tucked in their back pocket for when someone becomes a problem.

Don't list them as a reference. Come on man! You don't HAVE to be 100% truthful. Don't tell my boss but, I don't really speak Spanish.

Employers can say wahtever they want to say. This idea that is illegal is simply people complaining and those complaint eventually becoming urban legend.

If you were a bad employee, they can say that you were a bad employee.

If you created a 'hostile work environment', they can say so.

If you did everything right and got everything done, but you just didn't 'click' with the team, they can say that too.

They don't even have to have documentation for these references.

Now, that being said, what most people are thinking of when they tell you that this is 'illegal' is that it is illegal to engage in slander or libel against anyone's name. That means it is only illegal if it is warrantless, unfounded lies. So, if they say these things and don't have anything to back it up, then you can call them on it and demand proof. It won't help you get a job but it will probably stop them from saying such things.

If they have documentation (or simply a coworker or two that will back up the claims), then they are perfectly within their rights to say what they think. That's why prospective employers want references. And don't think that the person you list as a reference is the only person they talk to. Many times they will call that person, talk to them, and then ask if there is anyone else in the company they can talk to.

The best way to stop bad references is to not list them on the resume. Of course, you will have to explain a 4 year gap in you employment record.

If you were at that job for a long time you probably don't want to leave it off your resume...it will look like you weren't working. Is there someone else there or at the corporate level you could use as a reference?

Research FOR SURE if they can disclose negative info on you. I have worked in many states and have never heard of one where they can. Most states only allow Hire Date, Rate of Pay and Position to be verified.

i would seek legal advice if i were you

Have a friend call pretending to be a potential employer and find out exactly what was said about you. If you disagree, dispute it in writing by sending letter to company (supervisor of the person giving bad references and the HR Manager). Document everything and explain to potential employer. Ask potential employer to call more than one person in the company, tell them exactly who is giving the bad reference and why. I work in HR and we are very understanding. If you be truthful, we will understand.

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