You want to protect your business, so you listened to your attorney and you implemented a policy of only “neutral” references. That is, you only confirm dates of service and title. This is a great policy, and the one recommended by many attorneys.
In fact, last week, I asked six labor and employment attorneys their opinion and all six said that should be your general policy, especially for bad employees. (They all had exceptions, as well, and you should especially note Donna Ballman’s point that you don’t want to keep your former employees unemployed.) As Jon Hyman said, if simply confirming dates and titles sends the message that this employee was terrible, why risk a lawsuit by giving details?
Absolutely. I totally agree. Except when it comes to people who worked for me. You want a reference on one of my former employees, I’m going to tell you exactly what I think. And, furthermore, since I don’t work for that company any more, there’s not any policy that is going to hold me back. I mean, what can they do? Fire me?
To keep reading about my dislike of neutral references, click here: Why Neutral References Don’t Work