Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Do you know? Ohio law protects employers that give negative job references

There are more people looking for work than at any time in the last 25 years. If you happen to be one of the companies hiring at the moment, you will likely have more applicants than you will know what to do with. How do you sift the good candidates from the bad, those who were laid off through no fault of their own from those who were terminated for poor performance? References are one tool, yet many employers seldom provide them out of a mistaken fear that they can be sued for giving a poor one.

Do you know? Ohio has a specific law, R.C. 4113.71, that protects employers that give negative job references. One employer can give another employer information about an employee’s job performance without fear of liability, unless:

  1. the former employer knows the information is false, or makes the disclosure with the intent to mislead, in bad faith, or with a malicious purpose, or

  2. the information is provided in violation of the employment discrimination laws (for example, an employer gives good references to white employees and bad references to black employees).

Thus, the only catch in giving employment references is that the information must be truthful and non-discriminatory. Business should not fear accurately responding to inquiries from other business about past employees. The next time you are asked for a reference on a former employee, consider responding accurately and honestly. Who knows, you might get the same courtesy in return.

Presented by Kohrman Jackson & Krantz, with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.

For more information, contact Jon Hyman, a partner in our Labor & Employment group, at (216) 736-7226 or jth@kjk.com.