My first role upon graduating was working in a start up for 4 years as a Software engineer.
Unfortunately things really soured with Senior management after the 4th year causing me to resign and move on. Senior management were extremely vindictive during this period, by putting me on an unrealistic Performance improvement plan with the view to building a case to kick me out by setting impossible deadlines and trying to humiliate me. I left with a first written warning.
Since then I have gained 5+ years experience elseware and have not had any problems with any of my other employers. If anything, they are all extremely happy with my performance, with many willing to rehire me if the opportunity arose.
I am now seriously considering removing this work experience from my CV because I feel that it adds no value to my CV given that I cannot get a good reference from them. I am worried that by keeping it on my CV it may lead to future job offers being withdrawn if I need to provide a reference from this company and it comes back negative. Many reference forms ask very detailed questions.
I have tried to mitigate this by trying to come to an agreement with the company to not provide a negative reference, but they are not interested in negotiating or compromising.
Given I have over 5 years experience since leaving this firm, can I remove this from my CV?