My most recent employer has been giving me a bad reference to new potential employers. I was offered a position, with a start date, and received a withdraw call 2 days prior to the start date. They stated it was because of my negative review from my most recent practice.

I worked there for 5 years, and it is my most recent position, so I have to keep it on my resume. Do I have to put the main office manager on my resume, or can I put a department manager as my reference? The department manager that I would like to use as a reference was not my direct manager, but she is a manager who saw my work and skills.

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    Depending in your location, this may need to go to an employment lawyer. Please tag for country and or state. Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 18:49
  • It is not illegal, but it may be cause for damages to you if your allegations are accurate. Get a lawyer and see what they can do to help you. Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 20:03
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    Related, if not a dupe: workplace.stackexchange.com/q/23642/45671
    – Herb
    Commented Sep 20, 2017 at 22:01
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    They want to get feedback from someone in a supervisory position who has knowledge of your work habits. Departmental manager might not be good enough for some, might be okay for others. If you have a previous direct supervisor, that's usually fine. Keep in mind, you get to pick your references. While not ideal, I've gone with "I have no supervisory references for you," especially when I made the transition to IT and none of my previous supervisors were actually had IT technical skills, themselves (new employers wanted a supervisor who could also assess my technical chops). Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 13:48
  • Is the bad review malicious or is it simply a reflection of your work/behaviour? It makes a big difference.
    – user
    Commented Sep 21, 2017 at 14:44

2 Answers 2


Tell your prospective employers that your old employer is potentially committing libel/slander. Also inform your prospective employer that you have positive experiences with previous employers and would ask that your prospective employer contact the postive old employers instead.


This practice in the United States opens the former employer to liability for slander and a potential tortuous interference with a contract lawsuit. I'd speak with an employment attorney.


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