The Case of the Reference Request
A former employee who was fired due to poor quality work, absences, and lateness related to her drinking problem, informs you that she has applied for a position at another company and has already given your name as a reference. She desperately needs a job (she is a single parent with three children), and she asks you to give her a good recommendation and not mention her drinking, which she assures you is now under control.
She also asks you to say that she voluntarily left the company to address a family medical crisis, and that the company was pleased with her work. You like this person and believe she is a good worker when she is not drinking. You doubt that she really has overcome her drinking problem, however, and you would not recommend your own company hire her back.
- What do you say to this woman?
- What do you say to an employer who calls you for a reference?
- What if the prospective employer was a friend?
- Suppose the problem was a theft?
- Suppose she had asked you to be a reference prior to supplying your name to her prospective employer?
- What values are at stake? Do some of the values conflict with one another?
Jim Balassone is executive-in-residence at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics.
March 1, 2011
May 23 deadline for applications
The goal of the Hackworth Fellows program is for Fellows to promote ethical reflection and reflective ethical action among their undergraduate peers
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