How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask John Knox Your Own Question
John Knox
John Knox, Solicitor
Category: UK Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1155
Experience:  Solicitor and Advocate
Type Your UK Employment Law Question Here...
John Knox is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I resigned from my last job.

This answer was rated:

I resigned from my last job. Later I was offered a role, which strangely got withdrawn after they started to seek references, my last employer is quite spiteful and I know the fact I resigned left them unhappy. I wrote to the company that withdrew their offer to ask if it was the fact my last employer was negative.. I did not receive a reply. I have now been offered another role, and the CEO informed me that my previous employer wrote refusing a reference, which has left a huge ? over me, also one of their employees who unfortunately knows a member of what will be my new team has said some negative things about me, this has left me not only baffled as to why, because I have a letter from my past employer after I resigned thanking me for my valued service etc.. thank goodness I kept it. However, this negativity that has reached my new employers has already scarred me before I even start, and I believe cost me a previous job offer. If this does at the end of the day cost me this role also.. or any other in the future do I have a case for Legal action?? I know a past employer can refuse to give references but if this is costing me my career and future employment  surly I have a legal case.. I may never work again as a result.  I did my job well at my last employment.. had no disciplinary ...  what can I do to put a stop to them interfering with my future employment.  Thanks  Michele

Hello Michele,

I will do my best to help you with this.

Your ex-employer's duty to you as an ex-employee is one of reasonable care in producing a reference that is both factually accurate and fair. There is no strict obligation to provide a reference but a refusal could amount to negligence if it affects your employment prospects.

Similarly, if reasonable care is not taken in comments made or a reference given, your ex-employer could be guilty of negligence and you could bring legal action for breach of duty of care and/or defamation as a result.

You should carefully note down everything that happens and is said and by whom and keep that as a record in order that you have the evidence in place should you decide and need to take action in the future.

Clearly, if something went wrong with your new job, you may take the view that it has resulted from your ex-employer's breach of its duty of care and you could bring proceedings seeking damages for loss of earnings and future earnings.

Any queries, please ask.

Best wishes
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi John,

Thank you for your answer. Just so I fully understand, the fact I feel a previous job offer was withdrawn after seeking a reference from my ex employer, and now it has been confirmed with this new role that they refused a reference, plus the female associate of my ex firm connecting deliberately to almost sabotage this new role with one of my new team members would allow me to pursue legal action based on breach of duty of care? I know employers do not have to legally give references but this is clearly damaging my future prospects. So, in your opinion I would have a case if I am forced to take them to court? would it be a tribunal or a county court situation? I feel so strongly that people should not be allowed to get away with this... I start my new role on Monday and already have my new team feeling negative about me.



Hi Michele

I think you certainly could have a case. The problem you will have is proving that negative comments have been made. You will need to make a data access request in respect of the reference given to the employer who withdrew the job and hopefully gain access to that reference. If that reference was inaccurate or unfair then you would have a good case.

I would suggest that you wait to see how things progress at the new place before you decide whether to act. If all is well, I think the damages you would recover in any claim would be limited.

If you do wish to bring a claim, let me know and I will see if I can recommend a law firm in your area who could assist.

Best wishes
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Hi John


Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX I have you here, I have a feeling the reference may have been verbal with the role that was withdrawn as they asked me for phone numbers of 2 referees, I know the second was telephoned and asked for an email with positive & negative comments, however, that reference was glowing, because I received a copy. Proving my ex employers was lacking in duty of care may be difficult there, unless the manager confirmed in a letter if approached by a legal body. I will absolutely not proceed just yet, as you quite rightly said, although things have been damaged in my new role with people that don't even know me, which makes things very stressful for me before I even start, the job at the moment has not been withdrawn just tarnished. However, if I have to move on for whatever reason I will come up against this time and time again and I need to know that repeated refusal by them, which is blocking my chances of employment will allow me to sue, I feel I have already lost one role, and here I am with another hanging by a thread all because I resigned. I need my ammo in knowledge, at least if necessary I can relate that, and also they will have every corner covered o I need to know my legal standing if I need it.. the knowledge would have a case will at least will make me feel better. I also have photos taken at a social event only 3 weeks before I resigned with them and the team, close images in a warm manner, plus a letter regrettably accepting my resignation and thanking me for my valued service, wishing me happiness for the future. My new employer has this which saved me really, they felt it a total contradiction by my ex employer.. however, after I got over that, this associate of there's contacted one of my new team members. All very stressful John

I understand what you are saying and I do think that, particularly if your difficulties continue, you will have good prospects of succeeding with a claim.

By the way, I didn't say before but you would look to bring a claim via the County Court or High Court rather than the Employment tribunal.

The reality here is that your ex-employer cannot act in such a way as to practically make you unemployable moving forward! If they do that and you keep hitting this barrier, I would certainly expect your case to be strong. The hurdle then would be collating the evidence. If, ultimately, you have to rely on oral testimony in Court then so be it. Your case would then depend on what the Judge made of those witnesses testimonies.

If you did bring a case, I would expect that your ex-employer would settle on the basis that, in future, they will provide a reference in an agreed form. It would not necessarily have to be glowing so long as it covered all the basics and was not inaccurate or unfair. That would then break the deadlock.

Hope this comforts you to a degree.

Best wishes
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I could also at that point sue for damages and loss of earning yes? as well as a fair reference for the future?


Many thanks

Yes. What I am saying is that if you did sue for those remedies, the likely response would be to offer you the fair reference for the future. The damages would then be open to negotiation.

Just to be clear, they cannot inhibit your career prospects indefinitely in the way they currently appear to be doing.

See how the job goes and then come back to me if you want to pursue a case. I can help.

John Knox and other UK Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

John, thank you so much for all your advice, you have very much helped, if I need you agin, I will find you here, yes?


warm wishes to you & have a lovely Christmas



No problem Michele, all the best with the job. I am sure things will start to look up for you soon.

I will be here, yes, if you need me. Just start your question "For John Knox..."

Merry Christmas!