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Good News for Reference Checking

• volume 4 • number 1

Last year Hawaii became the thirty-second state to enact new reference checking laws. The intent of this legislation is to provide immunity to employers who in good faith provide "information or opinion" about former employees.

The Hawaii Revised Statute guarantees "An employer shall not be liable for any civil damages resulting from the employer's disclosure, or its consequences, of information or of an opinion about an employee to a prospective employer of that employee, provided that (1) the prospective employer or employee requests the disclosure, and (2) the employer acts in good faith. An employer shall be presumed to be acting in good faith unless a lack of good faith is shown by clear and convincing evidence that the employer disclosed information that was knowingly false or deliberately misleading."

Obviously, legislation like this is long overdue. By protecting employers who provide honest information about former employees, the Hawaii statute and others like it make it less likely that dangerous or incompetent workers will be hired somewhere else.