Employee references aren’t a matter of ‘free speech’ — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily
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Employee references aren’t a matter of ‘free speech’

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in Hiring,Human Resources

Answering reference calls? Don’t think all responses are protected by “free speech” rights.

Recent case: Tony was a certified nursing assistant at a nursing home. Although he is a man, he routinely wears a wig, makeup, jewelry and women’s clothes. Tony alleged he was often harassed about his appearance and ultimately fired based on false allegations of patient abuse.

After applying for several jobs and being turned down after prospective employers checked his references, Tony sued. He alleged defamation and interference with contracts.

The nursing home argued that it was immune from liability for anything its representative may have said under the Texas Citizens Par­­tici­­pation Act, which guarantees free speech when discussing public concerns. The court didn’t buy that argument. Unless they’re truthful, reference statements may create liability. (Rivers v. Johnston Custodial, et al., No. 14-CA-484, WD TX, 2014)

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