Discriminatory Verbal Reference
6 January 2016
Pnaiser v NHS England and Coventry City Council
This case concerns an employee, Ms Pnaiser, who was considered disabled within the meaning of the Equality Act 2010. She was made redundant from her role with Coventry City Council and, as a part of this process, she signed a Settlement Agreement which included an agreed reference.
When contacted for a reference, her former manager supplied the agreed reference but also stated that she would be happy to discuss the reference further upon request. The prospective employer then called Ms Pnaiser’s former manager who proceeded to disclose that she had taken a significant amount of time off as a result of her disability and this had affected her performance.
This led to the job offer being withdrawn and, subsequently, a successful claim for disability discrimination. Whilst the employer in this case should certainly not have deviated from the reference that had previously been agreed, this is a prime example of the dangers companies face with regards to references and highlights that even former employees can be a source of tribunal action. We therefore suggest that the reduced risks make a short, basic reference by far the safest and least risky option and would be happy to provide a free, no obligation template upon request.
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