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Liability for Giving Positive References

Churches can be held liable for recommending someone with a history of misconduct.

Two state supreme courts issue important rulings

[ Defamation, Invasion of Privacy, Failure to Report Child Abuse, Negligent Selection as a Basis for Liability]

Article summary. Church staff members occasionally are asked to provide a reference on a former employee or volunteer. Sometimes these references are provided over the telephone while in other cases they are provided in writing. Two recent state supreme court rulings address an important question-can persons who provide such references incur any legal liability for doing so? The courts reached the same conclusion-persons who know of information about a former worker that makes him or her a risk of harm to others may be liable for giving an unqualified "positive" reference that omits any information regarding the workers prior misconduct or potential risk of harm. This feature article fully reviews these historic cases, and evaluates ...

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  • July 1, 1997