August 2, 2016
In the recent Pennsylvania Record article “Third Circuit Consistent with Other Courts in Pro-Employer Ruling,” special counsel David Van Pelt explained a decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals which affirmed a lower court’s ruling that employers have the right to provide truthful information in a request for references without being liable to a former employee.
The matter, Bentlejewski v. Werner Enterprises, et al. was filed after an individual employed as a driver by the defendant claimed that the company defamed and libeled him when it provided employment verification and information on accidents that were deemed preventable to potential employers. The Third Circuit ruling highlighted an employer's privilege when providing information about a former employee to a prospective employer.
“There was not anything particularly surprising about the ruling,” Van Pelt said. “Courts have, for many years, recognized that employers are entitled to a privilege in providing truthful information about the conduct and performance of former employees.
The principal basis for the court’s decision was that the plaintiff, a former employee, “did not provide any evidence that the information that the former employer provided to prospective employers regarding his performance was false," he added. "Therefore, the former employer’s conduct was privileged under Pennsylvania law."
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