MARY KEATING: If someone calls you for a reference. You can chose to say nothing or say the bare minimum, here is, when the person worked for me, here was her job title, she is eligible for rehire, you did not even have to answer that question.
ROCHELLE EISENBERG: Employers may be afraid to give references because of the fear of being sued for defamation.
MARY KEATING: You can be sued for making defamatory remarks about someone and depriving them of some job that they claim they would have gotten.
ROCHELLE EISENBERG: I have never handled a case, where anybody has been successfully sued for defamation in the giving of references. So, it is a fear, but I believe in really most instances, I mean in really most instances, it is a fear that is without merit. As long as the employer is giving what that employer believes to be an accurate reference without malice.
MARY KEATING: If you want to actually help the person along, either the employee or the potential new employer if you think that person might be making a mistake, keep your answers very factual, unemotional, and if you are feeling malicious, just do not answer the question that is what is going to get you into trouble.