I think my former employer is retaliating with bad references.

I am a 55 year old former employee of a company that dismissed me from my position at the beginning of 1999. I did accept severance pay and signed the agreement not to sue. I have since been searching for employment. I believe that the company has been giving negative feedback about me to the prospective employers.. Most of my fellow co-workers can vouch for my capability but, would be reluctant to come forward. My intolerance for some illegal acts witnessed by my former emptier are probably the motive for their consternation. Such illegal acts include dumping chemical waste from a boiler into a landfill, subjecting my daughter(a summer employee) to lifting 50 pound castings without safety shoes and disciplining me for medical leave.(1994). I suspect retlaliation. Do you think I should peruse any legal action?. Would your company be able to find out what they are saying about me to prospective employers?

1 answer  |  asked Mar 15, 2001 8:29 PM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
An employer cannot retaliate with a poor reference

Assuming that your release is valid, you can only pursue claims that arose after you signed it. If your employer is giving you poor references because it harbors ill will towards you for engaging in the protected activity that you mentioned, you would have a claim for retaliation. If you can prove that the poor references prevented you from getting a job, you could recover the value of that job.

Proving all of this will be hard. Neither your employer nor your prospective employers are likely to admit to the bad references. Ohio law also protects employers who give out bad references, even if false, so long as not malicious. Your case, however, is that your employer is giving you poor references for an unlawful reason, so you could possibly overcome this. Finally, we need to look at your release to see whether it is, in fact, valid.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Nov 28, 2000 1:12 PM [EST]

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