ã 2007 Borenstein and McVeigh Law Office LLC. The provision of this document does not create an attorney-client
relationship and readers are cautioned that this document cannot be relied upon as a substitute for seeking counsel on the
application of law to their individual circumstances.
EMPLOYMENT REFERENCES 1
Employment references are often a “Catch-22” situation for the Minnesota employer. Employers want to
obtain as much information as they can about prospective employees through references from former
employers, yet they want to avoid giving references, so as to limit liability to former employees. Because
of employers’ fear of being sued over a negative employment reference, many Minnesota employers have
typically provided only dates of employment, job titles worked and last wage rate/salary in response to
employment reference queries.
Effective August 1, 2004, all Minnesota private employers have a measure of protection from lawsuits by
former employees based on employment references they have given. If the procedures set out below are
followed, no legal action can be maintained against an employer by an employee or former employee for
disclosing information to a prospective employer or employment agency, unless:
the information disclosed is false or defamatory; and
the employer disclosing the information knows or should have known that the information was
false and acted with malicious intent to injure the current or former employee.
This new statutory standard places a heavy new burden of proof on the employee or former employee
who seeks to sue an employer or former employer for defamation or other claims related to the
In response to a request for a reference from a prospective employer, an employer may disclose the
following, either orally or in writing:
1) dates of employment;
2) compensation and wage history;
job description and duties; and
training and education provided by the employer.
In addition, the employer may disclose in writing acts of violence, the