Recent Developments

Issues that affect ministers and churches
Employee References and Defamation
Can an employer be sued for defamation over a negative reference?

An Indiana state appeals court threw out a lawsuit brought by a worker against her former employer for allegedly defamatory references given to prospective employers. A worker quit her employment with a secular employer following a dispute over working conditions. She then sought new employment. When she began experiencing difficulty finding another job, she became suspicious of the references her former employer was giving. In an attempt to determine the nature of the references, the woman had her mother and boyfriend contact the former employer, represent themselves as prospective employers, and request references. Supervisory personnel made the following remarks about the former employee: "Did not get along well with other employees"; "could work without supervision on occasion"; "was somewhat dependable"; "does not work good with other people"; "is a trouble maker"; "was not an accomplished planner"; and "would not be a good person to rehire." The woman sued her former employer for defamation. The defendants asked the court to dismiss the case, and the court did so. It observed:

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Posted: January 1, 1992
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