The High Court has decided that an email about an ex-employee, sent six years after he had left, and not given as a reference, could still give rise to a damages claim.
The HR Director at the employee’s previous employer, Swindon College, sent an email about the employee, Rob McKie in damning terms. The High Court found that Mr McKie had, in fact, been a well-regarded and highly respected member of staff.
Importantly, the College was liable even though this was not a formal reference situation. This arguably represents an extension of the law as it stands.
The College was severely criticised for not having adequate procedures in place covering such emails or comments about ex-employees. This is an aspect of employers Staff Handbooks that will, therefore, be worth looking at.