I wrote a blog about managers and supervisors who recommend
their employees on LinkedIn in October 2012. A couple of recent
calls have revealed that it may be worth re-publishing as a
Our local radio station this morning was asking the audience to
call in and reveal their "pet-peeve". As someone who
provides advice on terminating employees, I have one: 'managers
who recommend employees on LinkedIn without thinking about the
Normally, if you are terminating a sub-par employee you will not
recommend that person to another employer. It's difficult to
argue that an employee is useless while praising their attributes
in writing. However, by allowing your managers to
"recommend" people on LinkedIn, you are forcing your HR
personnel and lawyers to do just that. Employees are encouraged to
enhance their profile on-line by asking for recommendations from
co-workers and supervisors. Co-workers and supervisors are
reluctant to say no when asked, regardless of whether the employee
is a good worker. Therein lies the problem.
One of the first things I do when I am asked to provide advice
on terminating a poor performer is check LinkedIn. It is simply
amazing how many times I find strong recommendations from their
managers (sometimes even HR Managers and CEO's) on their
LinkedIn page. There are enough hurdles to overcome when
terminating an incompetent employee without having to distance
ourselves from recommendations on LinkedIn. Seriously, make it
Now, I know what you're thinking – aren't we
encouraged to provide letters of reference? The answer is yes
but not inconsistent with my rant. The Supreme Court of Canada in
Wallace determined that a refusal to provide a former
employee in that case with a letter of reference to help him seek
alternate employment was evidence of bad faith. That case has some
peculiar facts and, more importantly, there is a significant
difference between a letter of recommendation and a letter of
reference. The former is an endorsement, the latter simply
references the experience obtained by an employee from working at
your business. In short, you can say that an employee has 10 years
experience doing a particular function without saying that they
were good at it.
My advice is simple: encourage employees enhance their profile
on-line through sites like LinkedIn but do not recommend employees
on LinkedIn without careful consideration. Human nature makes it
difficult for a person, when asked, to deny the request to
"recommend" them. Therefore, I have been encouraging my
clients to have a "no recommending employees on LinkedIn"
clause in their social media policy. That provides a perfect excuse
when denying an employee that request and, hopefully, avoids the
opportunity for co-workers and subordinates to be offended. It
would also be prudent to make one person in your organization
responsible for issuing reference letters to avoid surprise letters
surfacing after termination. Maybe I should deal with one
"pet-peeve" at a time.
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Unfortunately, reasonable accommodation for employees in the workplace continues to be the source of significant litigation and even today we continue to see outrageous examples of employers behaving badly.
We are now beginning to see reported cases involving charges and subsequent fines laid against employers for failing to provide information, instruction and supervision to protect a worker from workplace violence.
On October 13, 2016, the Supreme Court of Canada denied leave to appeal an Ontario Court of Appeal decision which ordered an employer to pay a former employee 37 months of salary and benefits following termination.
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