At my last job my performance was complimented a lot, both by my boss and colleagues. I completed all tasks given to me successfully and in time and had some objective successes above what could be expected. At the same time I was bullied by my boss since almost the beginning (I know the reasons, but don't want to describe them here and no, I didn't do anything wrong). Then I was let go during my probationary period. Now I've received my work certificate and the "secret language" (I'm in Germany) shows a very bad grade (something between 3 and 4).

I'm wondering what the best ways to deal with that are. A lawyer would probably cost me a lot.

I know I could contact the employer directly and ask for corrections, but my whole cooperation with this company can be summarised in one sentence: "My boss was a jerk and the company culture dysfunctional". So it probably won't work. It also cost me a bit of time to (start) forget(ing) all the awful behavior I experienced there, with my shrink using terms like "sadism" and "narcissism" to describe my boss, so I wouldn't like to prolong the experience too much.

On the other hand, the current certificate is simply not fair and I wouldn't like it to reduce my chances to get interesting jobs in the future.

  • How many other certificates have you got? It's a huge difference between this being your only one and this being one of many. – nvoigt Jul 15 '19 at 9:52
  • And be careful around that shrink in the future. It does not seem professional to throw around those terms for people they have not directly talked to, but only know through the lens of a single, biased individual. – nvoigt Jul 15 '19 at 9:56
  • @nvoigt, I don't know, I've talked to several shrinks (I wanted to have several views) and all used the term mobbing and most narcissism. And honestly, his behaviors were sick. It's about objective behaviors (statements, actions), not about how I felt around him. – user42145 Jul 15 '19 at 12:10

If you feel the need to use the certificate, I suggest you do contact the company for improvements. While they may be unwilling, few companies want to go to court over something like that.

If they refuse, you either search for a new job without mentioning this job - there are posts on workplace on how to achieve this - or you are going to have to sue them.

Personally, I have found the threat of a lawsuit to often be quite motivating for businesses, and though I don't know German employment law, such a lawsuit seems far from hopeless, especially if you have objective successes exceeding expectations.

Keep in mind that financially, it may well be possible that the employer will have to foot at least part of the bill if they lose, but you have to take that up with a lawyer to be sure.

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    Just to clear the order up: if you are legitimately thinking about suing get your lawyer first, don't even think of threats before that. – lucasgcb Jul 15 '19 at 9:04
  • The usual "I'm not a lawyer, so get one before you go to court" advice applies. Always good to re-iterate, though. – bytepusher Mar 3 at 22:52

In the past I had a work certificate with a bad grade (maybe 5) in one of the points. I went to a lawyer who wrote a friendly letter to my ex-employer with the request for a new work certificate. They just complied and sent me a new certificate (with a 1 for that point). That wasn't too expensive, I don't remember exactly, but probably in the 100-300€ range.

Just try that. Your ex-employer has nothing to gain by giving you a bad certificate. Also the letter from the lawyer will probably go to somebody higher up in the hierarchy of the company who doesn't hold a personal grudge against you and who doesn't mind giving you a better grade.

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    If you have an Arbeitsrechtsschutzversicherung it's worth talking to them about it. There is a good chance they will pay for the lawyer sending that letter. – simbabque Jul 15 '19 at 14:47

Companies tend to have deeper pockets than you do, and therefore can probably afford more/better legal representation than you.

Considering that this is Germany, don't you have some sort of agency or board that you could talk to? Maybe an industrial tribunal?

If nothing else, the employment agency could probably tell you more about this sort of thing. It won't hurt to give them a call, or send them a message.

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