Pennsylvania References laws & HR compliance analysis

Pennsylvania References: What you need to know

Reference checks are a useful way for employers to gather information about applicants that they might not discover 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 creates 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. Pennsylvania, like many states, has recognized the tort of negligent hiring (Dempsey v. Walso Bureau, Inc., 431 Pa. 562 1968)). 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.
For a Limited Time receive a FREE HR Report on the "Critical HR Recordkeeping”.  This exclusive special report covers hiring records, employment relationships, termination records, litigation issues, electronic information issues, tips for better recordkeeping, and a list of legal requirements.  Download Now
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 immunity laws generally provide protection from claims by former employees for defamation of character.
Pennsylvania has a reference immunity law that provides employers with immunity from civil liability for the good-faith disclosure of information about a current or former employee's job performance to a prospective employer. The law provides that an employer is presumed to be acting in good faith in disclosing information about a worker's job performance (Pa. Stat. tit. 42, § 8340.1).
In order to rebut the presumption of good ...

Read more about References