Be careful what you say when being asked for a verbal reference..

Pnaiser v NHS England and another EAT/0137/15

Withdrawing an offer of employment after receiving a negative verbal reference about someone’s disability is disability discrimination.


Ms Pnaiser was made redundant from Coventry County Council, as part of her severance agreement it was agreed that she would be provided with a basic reference stating that she “always carried out her tasks to the best of her ability and worked diligently”.

Further to this Ms Pnaiser was then offered a role with NHS England, subject to satisfactory references.  After a telephone conversation between the interviewer and her former manager her job offer was withdrawn . This former manager knew about her disability related absences. The tribunal found that the former manager raised doubts about her suitability to undertake the role with NHS England.

Ms Pnaiser’s claims were however rejected at tribunal as she had failed to make the case that what was said related to her absences.

Ms Pnaiser appealed to the EAT, who upheld her appeal and stated that the employment tribunal should have concluded that the negative comments came from the fact she had a disability.

Source – XpertHR