Vey Willetts lawyer Paul Willetts was quoted in the August 21, 2017 edition of the Ottawa Metro News. The article, "Be Warned, Job Seekers: There is Such a Thing as a Bad Reference," considers a recent Ontario court case in which the owner of a company provided a negative reference to a prospective employer for an employee that it had recently fired. The prospective employer relied on the negative reference and decided not to offer a job to the individual. Consequently, the individual sued for wrongful dismissal and defamation.
At trial, the court refused to award the individual damages for defamation. In reaching this decision, the court found that the company's owner was justified in providing a negative reference as the statements made about the individual were true, objectively verifiable and not maliciously made.
In the article, Paul commented that this decision provides an important reminder for employers in Ontario when considering how and when to issue written and oral references for departed employees. In particular, Willetts noted that while "an employer certainly could provide a negative reference letter as long as it’s honest, it’s something they can support and they’re not doing it in a malicious fashion," employers are advised to avoid potential liability by keeping the process neutral and perhaps designating one staff member as the sole point of contact for reference requests.
Vey Willetts LLP is an Ottawa-based employment and labour law firm that provides timely and cost-effective legal advice to help employees and employers resolve workplace issues in Ottawa and across Ontario. 613-238-4430 or firstname.lastname@example.org