Do I have a right to see final results if a company does a background and a reference check on me? If so, how do I go about doing so?

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Do I have a right to see final results if a company does a background and a reference check on me? If so, how do I go about doing so?

I have a feeling that I am getting a
bad reference from a previous employer.
What can I do to stop it if I am?

Asked on June 4, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If the company hires a third-party to do a background check or buys a background check from some vendor or business, if they decline to hire you due to the check, it must give you a copy of the report and a notice detailing how you can dispute it with the company or agency, etc. creating it.
However, if the company used internal resources--like an HR person or hiring manager calling references to check them--they do not have to share the results with you. So if you feel you are getting a bad reference from a previous employer, they likely do not need to tell you.
Bear in mind that most bad references are *legal*, by the way. It is legal to truthfully tell about negative things you did: for example, if you were fired for insubordination or absenteeism, or because a customer or client complained about you, they can share that information. They can also express unflattering opinions, such as that you were "lazy," "a bad worker," "difficult," etc.--the law does not guaranty that others must have good opinions of you, and allows people to share their opinions, even negative ones. The *only* thing that would be illegal is the former employer making a factual misstatement (a lie) about you, like claiming you stole from the company when you did not. If you learn or believe that a former employer is making untrue factual assertions about you, you could sue that employer for defamation for compensation and/or a court order that they cease doing this.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If the company hires a third-party to do a background check or buys a background check from some vendor or business, if they decline to hire you due to the check, it must give you a copy of the report and a notice detailing how you can dispute it with the company or agency, etc. creating it.
However, if the company used internal resources--like an HR person or hiring manager calling references to check them--they do not have to share the results with you. So if you feel you are getting a bad reference from a previous employer, they likely do not need to tell you.
Bear in mind that most bad references are *legal*, by the way. It is legal to truthfully tell about negative things you did: for example, if you were fired for insubordination or absenteeism, or because a customer or client complained about you, they can share that information. They can also express unflattering opinions, such as that you were "lazy," "a bad worker," "difficult," etc.--the law does not guaranty that others must have good opinions of you, and allows people to share their opinions, even negative ones. The *only* thing that would be illegal is the former employer making a factual misstatement (a lie) about you, like claiming you stole from the company when you did not. If you learn or believe that a former employer is making untrue factual assertions about you, you could sue that employer for defamation for compensation and/or a court order that they cease doing this.


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