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It’s safe to tell the truth about former employees

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in Human Resources

Let’s say you have fired someone for breaking company rules, conduct so severe that the police get involved. What should you tell people who call later, looking for references on the former employee? The truth!

Recent case: Antoinette Birth worked for J.C. Penney. She was fired when she gave unauthorized discounts to customers. The case was referred to the police, who arrested her.

From then on, Birth claimed she couldn’t get a job because prospective employers kept learning about the arrest. She sued her former employer for defamation.

The court quickly dismissed her case because it was clear she had been fired after breaking company rules, conduct resulting in arrest. The truth is a defense to defamation claims. (Birth v. J.C. Penney, No. 09-3386, DC MN, 2010)

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