Negative Job Reference Okay in Ohio
March 3, 2009
Over the last several years, many employers have become fearful of providing a negative job reference or employment verification. They think that doing so would give rise to costly litigation. It has caused many of them to simply divulge basic information about their past employees such as employment dates and job titles when contacted by prospective employers for employment background checks.
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).
In addition to this Ohio law, employers should also be cognizant of the fact that you can be held liable for not divulging information when providing an employment reference. We chronicled this very issue in the article, Employment Verifications: Less May No Longer Be More!