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California State University, Long BeachCalifornia State University, Long Beach

Telephone Reference Check

The Legality of Reference Checking

Can you be liable if you don't check references? Yes, as a matter of fact, a major company was held liable for its failure to check references adequately on an employee who had committed rape and had spent time in jail for that offense. This is now known as "negligent hiring."

A word of caution: The same discrimination laws apply to reference checking as apply to interviewing. You cannot probe into marital status, age, handicaps, religion, color, or national origin for the purpose of using that information in your hiring decision.

Also, it is always a good idea to review your reference checking procedures with Staff Personnel Services. The information you gather when you check references must be kept confidential. It's not a good practice to discuss this information with other employees in your organization, unless they have a need to know.