My Former Employee is Bad-Mouthing Me

by Evil HR Lady on January 31, 2018

Help! I’m dealing with a disgruntled former employee. She was fine while she worked here, and I even agreed to be a reference for her in the future. But since she left she has bad-mouthed me and my company—even leaving a terrible Glassdoor review. Meanwhile, she quit without a new opportunity lined up and still doesn’t have a new job. How do I handle this situation?

To read my answer, click here: My Former Employee is Bad-Mouthing Me

Leave your answer in the comments! Either here or over at Cornerstone.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

David January 31, 2018 at 2:03 pm

Welcome to the new normal…lots of angry, bitter, resentful, disappointed folk. As for it blowing over, not sure I agree. Privacy is now, seemingly, an illusion.

One may have their “record” expunged in a court but it will last forever on online background check sites….it is not a good thing. I get free speech but just venting your anger, bitterness and rage seems dicey, at best.

Pandora’s box is open, a bell cannot be unrung and cliches exist for a reason.


Tim C. January 31, 2018 at 3:25 pm

This is the type of behavior that would get an employee fired. So you can’t fire her, but you agreed to be a reference for her. You did not say you would be a positive reference did you?


Jill January 31, 2018 at 3:48 pm

If anything, I would say reach out to her – by phone so there’s no trail – and just have a calm, “I’m understanding that you’ve been leaving negative reviews and speaking badly about me. What gives?” Let her explain. And then simply, calmly say that, given her level of unprofessionalism, you will not be able to give her a positive reference going forward. Let that sink in.

If she has any kind of brain, she’ll realize she’s burned a very important bridge, considering that she’s still job hunting.


BethRA January 31, 2018 at 4:29 pm

Based on the letter writer’s description, though, do you think Grumpy McFlamethrower as that kind of brain? To me, she reads like the kind of person who would take that call as an affront and step up her criticism even more.


grannybunny January 31, 2018 at 4:28 pm

With regard to giving this employee a reference to future, prospective, employers, the safest bet would be to simply limit it to factual information; that is, confirming that she worked there, her job title, length of tenure, salary, and whether or not she resigned voluntarily or was terminated.


Elizabeth West January 31, 2018 at 4:35 pm

There is a woeful lack of information in this letter. Yes, people do quit because they’re unhappy in a role, but why would they be? Was something else going on? What did the Glassdoor review say? Could there be problems that management failed to address, either with another employee or something else in the workplace? Sometimes folks don’t want to complain while they’re still in a situation because they don’t feel like it would do any good.

The disgruntled employee totally could be flaky. She could have been frustrated because the job was a poor fit for her. It’s hard to say without knowing more. However, if she was “fine” and then quit suddenly, depending on what the review and posts say, maybe it would be worthwhile to take a closer look at the internal circumstances surrounding her resignation.


Observer February 1, 2018 at 2:20 am

I was thinking the same thing.


Stephen February 20, 2018 at 10:12 pm

100% agree. There are two sides to every story!


charles February 1, 2018 at 1:45 am

Agreed – Do nothing. Nothing!

Even reaching out to her to find out “what gives?” might be seen as a “win” in her eyes.

It is best to let her bad-mouthing stand (or fail) on is own merits.


Beth February 2, 2018 at 11:50 pm

Yeesh. Well, if prospective candidates/clients have any sense, they know that some people are just jaded ex-employees that leave Glassdoor reviews. You can see through those. So I agree to do nothing –

EXCEPT, in the future, maybe make sure you follow up with those “jaded” candidates to see how they are doing and tell them improvements your company has made. There’s more on this in this ‘boomerang employee’ article:


anyone out there but me February 12, 2018 at 5:32 pm

“Barring employees that leave for personal reasons like becoming a stay-at-home parent or moving out of town, someone who quits without another job lined up is either deeply unhappy in their current role, or is simply flaky.”

OR….you are an absolutely TERRIBLE boss and you don’t realize it.


Michael Lojkovic May 2, 2019 at 1:39 am

It is much better to be open about wages and treatment. I find it usually means the employer was toxic or domineering with control of valuable employees, or offered new recruits empty promises about career advancement. By talking to everyone we know which companies to just hang up on. I’ve found some empolyers who would have bankrupted me with how their contract is setup. Long training periods, with being stuck there for at least 2 years, and no promise of advancement. They were hiring students out of college promising advancement, and advertising themselves as an employer. Whenever I check one of the many shell companies for this software firm they all have the same complaints on glass door.


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