Q. May a former employee sue me for giving a bad reference?
A. Generally, no. A North Carolina statute provides immunity from civil liability to an “employer who discloses information about a current or former employee’s job history or job performance to a prospective employer” upon the request of the prospective employer or the employee.
“Job performance” includes the employee’s suitability for reemployment, the employee’s skills and abilities as they relate to suitability for reemployment and the reason for the employee’s separation. The immunity does not apply when the information disclosed is false and the employer providing the information knew or reasonably should have known it was false. Regardless of the protection this statute offers, it is a good business practice to limit who handles references to designated members of.