Contesting an employer’s reference: reasons and procedure for an objection

When you quit the job, handing over the job reference is one of the most important moments. After careful consideration, you must decide for yourself whether to exercise your right to challenge a potentially poor reference.

The further procedure should be well weighed up, because such disputes with the employer very often end up in court – but in the case of justified objections, you have little choice. Find out here under what circumstances you should contest a bad reference and how you can best go about it.

The most important in a nutshell

  • You have a right to a job reference and can demand it from your employer.
  • You can determine the type of testimony yourself.
  • Always check your reference for formal and content-related errors after receiving it.
  • Especially if you are unsure about the wording in the reference, you should consult a lawyer.

How to challenge your employer’s reference

You should take these steps if your employer’s reference is unfair or incorrect:

  • Seek a discussion with your supervisor.
  • If no amicable solution can be reached: Have your employer’s reference checked by a lawyer.
  • If an out-of-court solution is out of the question, the lawyer will represent you in court if legal action is taken.
  • The lawyer files a complaint for you with the court.

Claim the right to a reference

If you leave your employer, you have a right to the employer’s reference. However, you must claim this right and ask your employer to issue a testimonial.

§ Section 630 of the German Civil Code (BGB) Duty to provide testimonials

Upon termination of a permanent employment relationship, obligated parties can demand a written certificate about the employment relationship and its duration (simple employer’s reference). The reference must be extended to the performance and conduct on duty upon request (qualified job reference).

In addition, you can decide what kind of testimony it should be. The Simple employer’s reference merely confirms that you worked for the employer during a certain period of time and indicates which activities you performed. This means that no evaluations of performance and social behavior are given.

Much more meaningful and useful for further application processes is the qualified job reference. This Evaluates your performance and gives future employees information about your profile. So when you leave a company, in most cases you should insist on a qualified job reference. With the evaluation of your employee qualities, however, there is also an increased risk of errors, which is why you should check the reference thoroughly and, if necessary, make sure that it is correct. should contest.

Why should I contest my reference??

Errors in job references occur more often. When you have your reference in your hands, check it for formal errors and assess the completeness of the structure. If your employer refuses to correct your reference, you have the possibility of a To sue for correction of your reference. Personnel managers read countless such documents every day, and a special structure has become established for a quick overview.

Errors in the structure of the work certificate

In order to be able to assess whether your job reference is up to standard, you should Generally valid structure of qualified job references know.

Structure of a qualified employer’s reference:

  • Data to employee
  • job description for the entire period of the employment relationship
  • Assessment of performance and social behavior
  • if necessary. Reason for termination of employment
  • Conclusion
  • Date and signature

Most disputes with employers naturally take place around the assessment of performance. It is only human that you have a different view of your job from your perspective than your supervisor does. Thus, disputes and disagreements quickly arise that need to be discussed.

It is important to know: Even if you were not as successful in your job as you would have liked, you have a right to a benevolent and truthful reference.

This means that negative remarks not allowed because they make it more difficult for you to find a new job. Nevertheless, in order to understand different nuances of Gradations of performance in the evaluation to include, however, has itself in employer’s references a very differentiated choice of words naturalized. By means of special formulations in the reference, employers make it clear whether employees have distinguished themselves through particularly good performance or were mediocre at best. For you, it is important to check your present reference for such evaluations and to consider whether they apply to you.

§ 109 GewO reference, para. 2

The § 109 GewO certificate, para. 2 states that the reference must be formulated clearly and understandably. It must not contain any features or formulations which have the purpose of making a statement about the employee other than that which is evident from the external form or from the wording. A secret language as well as exclamation marks or similar are forbidden with it.

It is not easy to understand the formulaic testimonial language and its true meaning. If you are unsure, have your reference checked by a lawyer.

Formal errors

Clear grounds for contesting an employer’s reference exist if formal errors are included. For this purpose incorrect description of the job performed, missing job descriptions or simple spelling mistakes belong. You should immediately report such errors to your superior; as a rule, they are quickly corrected, as they are not the subject of further disputes.

The reference is less than adequate

Do you find statements in your job reference that suggest that your Work performance negative or at most as sufficient to be classified, then your superior is in the duty to prove this. He must explain why he considers your performance or social behavior only mediocre. It is up to you to follow the reasoning and assess whether it is credible from his perspective.

Examples of such negative evaluations in the employer’s reference:

  • regular tardiness
  • Mobbing
  • Refusal to work

The reference does not acknowledge your outstanding performance

You read your employer’s reference and you feel that you have not been judged fairly. Your supervisor may not mention at all that you have worked your way up from intern to deputy manager with outstanding performance over the past ten years. Perhaps, however, your department was able to acquire a very important order under your leadership.

Examples of outstanding performance in the job reference:

  • Project successes
  • Team leadership
  • Successful restructuring in the department

Such outstanding achievements can find their place in the job reference. You will have the burden of proving these accomplishments if you want to sue for your good reference in this case.

Other reasons for disputing a job reference

The evaluation in a job reference is always a little subjective, because your supervisor has probably not been in contact with you throughout the entire working day. He can only form his opinion through his observations and discussions with other employees.

Your supervisor may have been with the company for only a short time and may not have any idea of your long-term performance. Nevertheless he or she must not hand over a reference that is too short. If your reference is only a few lines long, this reflects badly on you, because there seems to be little to say about you. You may contest such a reference. Insist on a longer evaluation, perhaps by another supervisor who can better assess your performance.

In the same way, you can challenge your job reference if it is contradictory statements contains. Perhaps you receive very high praise for your ability to work in a team and your professional knowledge, but only a mediocre rating in the overall assessment follows. This does not fit and seems as if you are to be rauskomplementiert.

There may simply be an oversight behind this, but you should still get to the bottom of it, because future employers may misunderstand such inconsistencies.

Challenge your reference: What is the best way to proceed?

If you would like to have your reference corrected, you should take the following steps if necessary.

Basically you should Ask for changes as soon as possible. Take a look at your employment contract or collective bargaining agreement. There you can find deadlines for requesting a reference as well as for possible changes.

Step 1: Seek a discussion with your supervisor

If you have a problem with your employer’s reference, the first step should be to contact your superior. Meet Clarifying conversation and let him or her know in which points you would like to see the report card changed. You should also a reasoning as well as a proposal for the change in advance. This is how you can enter into a constructive discussion.

In the case of simple formal errors, the chances are quite good that your superior will arrange for the changes to be made immediately. If it is about evaluative statements, it can easily come to differences. If your superior does not give in, end the discussion in a positive atmosphere. If the fronts harden at this point, an amicable settlement quickly becomes unlikely.

After the interview, ask again on the written way the change of your employer’s reference and state specifically which points you would like to see corrected. Give your employer a deadline for the correction time limit of, for example, 14 days.

Step 2: Have your reference checked

If you would like to file an appeal against your reference, you should check this by a lawyer leave. Even if you may not like certain statements in the reference, they cannot be legally objected to. Then you are in danger of losing the following legal proceedings.

Thereby not only financial difficulties come to you. You will not necessarily be remembered well by your employer. Insofar as potential new employers find out how you left the company, the Chances of being hired again low.

Therefore, have the reference checked by a lawyer so that he or she can see whether your requests for changes are appropriate and whether a lawsuit could be successful.

Step 3: Involve a lawyer

If you have decided to hire a lawyer, he or she should get in contact with your employer. In a further conversation you can talk to express your demands with the help of a lawyer, Your employer can present his point of view. It would be good for both sides if an agreement could be reached at this point. So can a Financially and temporally more expensive lawsuit averted become.

KLUGO will find you the right lawyer for employment law and will accompany you every step of the way to a fair job reference. Through our initial telephone consultation, you will immediately receive an initial legal assessment from a lawyer as well as recommendations for possible further legal steps.

Step 4: Legal action

If no agreement is reached, a Action before the competent labor court take place. Depending on the initial situation, you or the employer may have the burden of proof.

Why should I appeal against my bad reference??

You may already know that your superior will not approve of changes to your reference and will probably refuse to make them. If you still see an urgent need for improvement, then you should definitely take the necessary legal steps. Work references are essential for job applications and have a great value. In your cover letter, you will, of course, put your merits first – the reference shows the personnel manager whether these merits are also confirmed by independent third parties become.

If you go into job application procedures with a bad reference, you are threatened with enormous disadvantages, which you can only explain and compensate for with difficulty, even in a personal job interview. So don’t be afraid to seek legal help if you want to challenge your reference in court.

You should take these steps until your reference is challenged in court:

  • Read the employer’s reference and formulate possible changes
  • Seek discussion with superiors and give written deadline for amendment
  • Have your reference checked by a lawyer
  • have a second discussion with your lawyer and supervisor
  • Challenging an employer’s reference in court

Our partner attorneys will give you an immediate assessment of the legal situation in an initial telephone consultation and – if necessary – enforce your right to a fair reference.

You have a legal question?

Then simply take advantage of the KLUGO initial consultation. The initial consultation is a phone call with a certified lawyer from our network.

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