Employee references

Employee references apply to the success of the employee in a specific job carried out in the company in either a negative or positive comment. When hiring new staff members, the employer often approaches the current employer of a certain staff. The employers still bear the duty to include references to the inability of the former employee to deliver various consequences. All they say about the individual is therefore being employed to test the person’s level of competence. The same scenario applies to the students such that in case the student suffers from a negative reference from any of the lecturers, he/she has the legal right to sue the whole university fraternity. All the measures and guidelines that can be taken into consideration by the particular student is mentioned in the basic principles of duty of care under the common law as discussed in the paper below.

Fundamental principle of duty of care under common law

There is a certain key fundamental principle of duty of care that determines the liability of the employers for references particularly the university employees to the students. Usually, the principle of duty of care is that a person must avoid certain omissions that may harm another person whom you have entered into a contract with (Rhee, 2012, 1139). It, therefore, means that risks on the various clients should be considered to prevent any adverse effect to another. Before any court decides as to whether a duty of care has been breached, certain key factors must be taken into account which includes, ethical considerations, the kind of harm that has been caused to another individual. Another element that is considered is the control taken by the defendant that gave rise to the damage (Schwartz, and Appel, 2010,319) It, therefore, means that the university can be sued in case of a negative reference that is made on any of their students. This is because the lecturer did not perform her duties with due diligence and care which resulted in injury.

Employer’s liability for the actions of the employees

Employers are often liable for every work performed by their employees. It, however, does not matter whether the harm caused to another person by the employee is intentional or not. This has been attributed to the fact that the employees direct the various behaviors of the workers thus should be able to share both the good and bad achievements attained by staff. The employers, therefore, have the legal liability on their employers (Erdos, 2011, 150). Another liability of the employees on their workers lies in the doctrine of respondeat superior where any act of omission by the employee is to be covered by the employer especially when it occurs in the course of employment (Council, 2010, 56). Any student who suffers from a bad reference caused by the staff member of the university can sue the institution since; it is liable for every action that may cause harm to any of its clients in the course of duty.

Cases under which an employer is liable for the actions of employee

Liability for misrepresentation of information

An organization is usually responsible for a negligent misrepresentation of information against a former employee intentionally. The misrepresented information often leads to an economic loss since it may be used by another party in the course of duty (Hickox, 2010, 1001).

Liability for Defamation

According to Leenders and Gabbay (2013, 978), an employee may be held liable for any action that has been conducted which results to harassment which leads to defamation of the employee if reported in the right time. The bullying can be caused by one of the employees. However, if the employee does not file a complaint with the management, the employer may not be held liable.

Workers Compensation

A co-worker may be injured in the course of duty. The worker’s compensation is always available that protects the employer from a lawsuit (Hickox, 2010, 1001). However, this is only provided when the accident happened in the course of employment.

Liability for tortious interference with the contractual relations

An employer may be held liable for tort interference especially when the contractual relations are interfered with leading to some level of loss. The tort of liability is usually to protect the varying expectancies of different individuals (Moore and Viscusi, 2014, 643).

The above discussion, therefore, shows that the University of Sussex has got a liability to their students including the former students. The university has a duty of care to their students to protect the welfare and provide safety for them while in school and even outside. Another duty of care that is owed to the student is a professional exercise of judgment by the lecturers that aims at ensuring that the student is not exposed to a certain level of harm especially when providing references to other organizations (Moore and Viscusi, 2014,600). It therefore also includes the duty of care in case of bad reference that is provided to any particular student by an employee of the university.

The law provides that the employers have the liability for any act of their employee irrespective of whether it is positive or negative. For instance, the employer has an obligation towards indemnifying their employee in case they are sued by any particular client. It, therefore, means that a student who suffers from bad reference due to the negligence caused by the lecturer of the university has all the rights to take him/her to court since they will be indemnified by the employer.

According to Downie (2010, 51), the employees also have the liability for tortious interference with the contractual relations that results to an economic loss to another party caused by the employee during the contractual agreement. For any person to be compensated, there has to be substantial evidence. The university, therefore, will be able to offset the student and the organization that may have incurred the loss due to the bad reference made to the particular individual student. Also, the lecturer failed to perform his duties with due diligence and care to prompt for sue by the suffered party who is the student. The university must protect any information regarding any particular student. The employer in the school, therefore, has the liability for misrepresentation of data of the students which may lead to damages that may cause to the student due to bad reference by the employee (Loughran and McDonald, 2011, 60). Further, the university may be held liable for defamation by the student. They are therefore responsible for any action that would lead to defamation of any of their student which can lead to suing in a court of law.


In summary, the employees are always liable under certain circumstances for bad references. They are liable for defamation of their workers in the vent that usually leads to a bad image of the particular victim. Additionally, they are liable for misrepresentation of information of both their former and current employees which may result in an economic loss to one of the interested parties. It can, therefore, be concluded that a student can sue the University defamation and even misrepresentation of information by the lecturer referred to as bad reference since they are liable for any particular action that may cause damage to the student.


Council, G.S.C., 2010. Code of practice. General Osteopathic Council, [Online]. Available at: http://www. Osteopathy. Org. UK/uploads/code_of_practice. Pdf. Accessed, 7.

Downie, J., Outram, S. and Campbell, F., 2010. Caveat emptor, venditor, et praescribor: Legal liability associated with methylphenidate hydrochloride (MPH) use by postsecondary students. Health LJ, 18, p.51.

Erdos, D., 2011. Stuck in the thicket? Social research under the first data protection principle. International Journal of Law and Information Technology, 19(2), pp.133-152.

Hickox, S.A., 2010. Employer liability for negligent hiring of ex-offenders. Louis ULJ, 55, p.1001.

Leenders, R.T.A., and Gabbay, S.M. Eds., 2013. Corporate social capital and liability. Springer Science & Business Media.

Loughran, T. and McDonald, B., 2011. When is a liability not a liability? Textual analysis, dictionaries, and 10‐Ks. The Journal of Finance, 66(1), pp.35-65.

Moore, M.J., and Viscusi, W.K., 2014. Compensation mechanisms for job risks: wages, Workers’ Compensation, and product liability. Princeton University Press.

Moore, M.J., and Viscusi, W.K., 2014. Compensation mechanisms for job risks: wages, Workers’ Compensation, and product liability. Princeton University Press.

Rhee, R.J., 2012. The Tort Foundation of Duty of Care and Business Judgment. Notre Dame L. Rev., 88, p.1139.

Schwartz, V.E., and Appel, C.E., 2010. Reshaping the Traditional Limits of Affirmative Duties Under the Third Restatement of Torts. J. Marshall L. Rev., 44, p.319.

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