I really like this video about right and wrong in employment references. I always heard from HR specialist (which I am not) that when asked for a reference one must only give dates of employment, last wages earned, and confirmation of employment - that's it! WRONG! This is especially timely considering the state of flux in our US and global economy and the impending or actual doom for more workers to either be laid off, fired, or downsized. Or to have fired a bad employee how to prepare for those requests for references.
While the good advice to managers looking to "separate the chaff from the wheat" in a business that may have too many employees to support is "Last Hired, First Fired" many still look at firing or eliminating positions based on other criteria. For example workers that managers construe as unlikable or unproductive when in fact it may be a personality issue or just plain mean-spirited in a bully-like environment. This is becoming more and more a problem in organizations that hire young or inexperienced micro-managers with narcissistic tendencies (we all know who they are). They may be cheap and full of fire but they just create a fire-storm of angst among the ranks.
The video from this link is a valuable and important reminder of what you can expect when getting a reference from a bad boss (with really good advice to protect yourself from subjective and inappropriate responses) to what managers (the good ones) can say if asked for a reference on a bad employee.
Ways to stop a bully boss from giving a bad reference!
The website - Undercover Lawyer - is chock-a-block full of helpful information!