Due to fear of legal ramifications, most employers only give prospective employers limited information about you, such as your length of employment, job position and final salary. But a former boss who gives you a bad reference can hurt your employment opportunities. With a little detective work, you can find out what your former boss is saying about you. And if you determine that he's harming you, you can take action.
Prospective Employer Feedback
A prospective employer may not tell you he received negative feedback from your former boss. But if you believe you got a bad reference, ask the prospective employer if he can advise you of his reasons for not hiring you. Sometimes an employer's decision has nothing to do with references; he is unable to hire you due to a limited number of vacant positions. As such, he may consider you for future positions.
Launch an Investigation
Your old boss is likely giving the same feedback to all of your prospective employers. Recruit the help of a job reference investigative agency to help you to determine what's being said. For a fee, an agency representative will contact your former boss and pose as a prospective employer.
Speak with the agency to find out what was said about you. Evaluate the feedback to determine if your former boss is telling the truth about you. He is legally permitted to say things about you that are true, but cannot make false statements or comments.
There are a few options for protecting yourself from getting a bad reference. The easiest thing is not to use your former boss as a reference. Don't even include the experience on your resume. Another option is to consider asking another coworker or supervisor from the company to provide a good reference for you. One last option is to send a “cease and desist” letter to your former boss or human resources department, if applicable. This letter warns your boss to stop speaking with prospective employers about you or face legal consequences. Have an employment attorney draft a cease and desist letter for you.
Faizah Imani, an educator, minister and published author, has worked with clients such as Harrison House Author, Thomas Weeks III, Candle Of Prayer Company and "Truth & Church Magazine." Her dossier includes JaZaMM WebDesigns, assistant high-school band director, district manager for the Clarion Ledger and event coordinator for the Vicksburg Convention Center.