Can I sue my ex-manager for giving me a bad reference?

UPDATED: May 23, 2012

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Can I sue my ex-manager for giving me a bad reference?

I’m looking for a new job because my present company is getting low on works.I had this solid interview from a company and they’ve almost offered me a job. They asked for my Passport and every single details to type of the job offer letter. I went through 3 rounds of interviews. Finally they asked for a reference and I gave my present manager’s number knowling that he’s an evil person. But he promised me to give a honest reference which was supposed to be great.After the hiring company called him; they sent me a note which is nothing but a rejection letter.

Asked on May 23, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

There is no obligation to provide a reference at all, or a good  reference; the only legal obligation is that if someone provides a reference, it cannot be defamatory. Defamation is the knowing, deliberate, or at least reckless making of untrue statements of fact which damage your reputation. Only untrue factual statements are potentially defamatory: so, for example, claiming you had excessive unauthorized absences when you did not.

However, true facts, even if negative, are not defamation--so, for example, saying that you were absent without persmission, if in fact you were, is not defamation. And opinions are not defamation--so saying you were a bad worker or lazy, which are both statements of opinion, are not defamation.

If you believe that you were defamed, you may have a cause of action, though if you do not know what was said about you, you will not be able prove or establish your case. If you do not have a cause of action for defamation, you most likely have no legal claim, since as noted, there is no obligation or duty to provide a reference at all, or to make a good reference.

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 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.

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