Businesses beware of the dangers of seeking or providing references

An Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) case highlights the dangers to employers and prospective employers when seeking and providing references. The EAT held that an employment tribunal erred in its approach when it found that a claimant had failed to establish a prima facie case of discrimination arising from disability.

When a disabled person’s job offer was withdrawn, following a negative verbal reference from their former employer, the tribunal should not have focused on whether there were neutral reasons why the manager providing the reference had formed a negative view of the individual. Rather, the tribunal should have considered whether sickness absences, which arose out of disability, played a part in that negative assessment.