Can I sue a reference from an unpaid internship for giving me a bad reference?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Can I sue a reference from an unpaid internship for giving me a bad reference?

I’ve suspected for about 6 months that one of my references was sabotaging my job search. I just found out today, that one of them has been giving me a bad reference. What she told them is subjective. She told them that I lacked enthusiasm, that I did not go above and beyond, adding that she would not hire me. The twist is, she was a mentor from an unpaid internship. I’ve missed out on at least two opportunities, and I suspect it is because of this reference. Can I sue her for defamation?

Asked on January 15, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, what you describe is not defamation. Defamation is the public (so to any third parties) making of untrue factual statements which damage your reputation. However, opinions--or as you call them, "subjective" statements--are not defamation: it is not legally defamation, for example, to say that you lacked enthusiasm, did not go above and beyond, or that she would not hire you, since all those are opinions. The law lets people have their opinions, even negative ones; you would not have a cause of action unless she made an untrue factual statement about you (e.g. accused you of excessive absenteeism, when you can show you were not absent).


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption