Alaska References laws & HR compliance analysis

Alaska References: What you need to know

Reference checks are a useful way for employers to gather information about applicants that might not be discovered through the application and interview process. However, despite the usefulness of reference checking, many employers are legitimately concerned about lawsuits from former employees based on information provided in response to a request for a reference. This can create a quandary for employers.
Employers are also concerned about liability for the actions of employees where the company failed to conduct a thorough reference check. Alaska, like many other states, has recognized the tort of negligent hiring (Svacke v. Shelley, 359 P.2d 127, 130 (Alaska 1961)). Employers may be liable for intentional or negligent acts of an employee if they knew or should have known of an employee's dangerous propensities. Therefore, employers should be diligent in conducting reference and background checks on new employees, particularly when the job involves contact with the public. A detailed discussion of these legal issues is available at the national References section.
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To deal with employers' reluctance to provide information about former employees, a number of states have enacted laws “immunizing” employers against employee claims over such disclosures. The protections provided by these immunity laws are from claims for defamation of character—libel and slander. Alaska is among the states that have enacted reference immunity laws. Under Alaska law, an employer is immune from liability for communicating information about the job performance of a current or former employee to a prospective employer at the request of the prospective employer or employee as long as the employer is acting ...

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