Nanny Employer seeks input on a reference question...

Received Sunday, February 25, 2007
Question for Employers.
Do I have to provide our ex-nanny with a reference letter even though we fired her because of her alcohol misuse? I would not want her working with any other family before she seeks help. Halina


Annie said...

If she was misusing alcohol on the job, not only would it be unethical for you to write her an employment reference that doesn't include that fact, if you do and she goes on to commit any kind of offense related to the behavior you fired her for at a new job you will be legally liable in most US states.

Moreover, if a potential employer contacts you for a reference on this person and you give a positive or neutral reference (or simply just confirm that she worked for you w/o elaborating further) you may still be liable in some states (a quick Google search led me to case law in California, Indiana, and Minnesota) if she goes on to commit some kind of misconduct related to the issues you were aware of but failed to disclose.

This is one of those cases when you don't have to feel bad about not giving a reference, the law is fairly black and white, so you don't have to feel guilty about refusing her request.

Annie said...

Absolutely not! There may be laws that prevent you from giving her a negative reference but no law can make you give a good reference. Simply tell her that you do not feel comfortable giving writing her a recommendation letter. She shouldn't be surprised when you decline -- honestly, I can't believe she'd even ask.

Anonymous said...

First of all, no. You never HAVE to provide a letter of reference.

You should be honest with her. Tell her that you are not comfortable writing a letter for her, but if you do you will put in the terms of her termination.

Anonymous said...

That's a very dumb question. Are you aware that you live in America? You don't have to give a reference or letter of reference to anyone.
If you fired your nanny, she would be pretty stupid to use you as a reference at all. If I were you (and I'm glad I'm not) I would be frank with the nanny. Say, well, we won't give you a reference because we fired you for alcohol abuse.
Can you say "duh?"

Anonymous said...

No, you don't. Or provide one that is honest and mentions you fired her for alcohol misuse.

Anonymous said...

Are you share you're not the one abusing some substance? What sort of question is that? If you don't want her to pass herself off to the next family, don't give her a letter of reference. Sheesh.

buzzkill said...

You do not have to provide her a letter of reference, and in this circumstance it would be odd if you did. Tell her that if people call you for a reference, you have no choice but to tell them the true details that led to her firing. I work in the state of NY for an attorney that specializes in employment, so be very certain that what you are passing on is truthful and factual. If the nanny is able to refute these "truths", you can expect to find yourself in court. The person I work for represents many affluent families and always advises them to say NOTHING. A person with verifiable wealth is a certain enough target for litigation without making grave errors like slandering people.
I seriously hope you aren't one of those employers that goes around badmouthing his/her former nanny out of boredom.

jennifer le carlo said...

I urge you to take the higher road. This person was in your life for a reason. If she has an issue with alcohol, go online (it's free) and find out information about treatment programs and AA meetings in the area. Explain to her because of X alcohol issue (whatever happened) that you will not be furnishing her a letter of reference nor will you be able to serve as a reference for her.

And send her on her way in such a way that you motivate her to make a positive change in her life. I don't understand the vindictive spirit the permeates so many nanny employers'. It almost seems like they relish in destroying another person. Perhaps no one believes in karma anymore, I don't know.

All I know is you should not be a reference for her, but you do have the capacity to positively alter this person's life as she leaves yours. Trust me, every good thing comes back on you.

Just because you cannot help this person by serving as a reference does not mean you have no ability to help this person.

Good luck.
I would be interested to hear how you resolve this situation.

Anonymous said...

good advice, buzzkill.
bad advice, jennifer le carlo.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Buzzkill--be very careful what you say if someone calls. The best advice I've heard is to give a very adamant "I would NOT rehire her" without any details. Then you can't get in trouble for defamation.

Anonymous said...

why are you all behaving like this nanny has done something terrible?
This could be the nanny with the alcohol in her closet. (from last week?)

Maybe she didn't jeopardize the children. Maybe she just has a personal problem. I am not saying you should keep her on or even give her a glowing reference. But if she was with you a while and good to your children, what possible harm could there be in sending her on her way with a little compassion.

People with drinking problems aren't evil. They are sick.

jmt said...

11:03 - I'm all for compassion, but this nanny got fired for alcohol misuse. I assume it was impacting her work. Would you hire her to watch your children? Would you wish it on someone else? If she's not getting a good reference, it is her own fault.

Why defend an alcoholic you don't know? Why defend a situation you don't know? Maybe, maybe, maybe. You sound like you have an alcoholic in your life and have learned to rationalize bad behaviors. Alanon my friend.

Anonymous said...

I am not defending the alcoholic.
I am not suggesting she give the alcoholic a reference. I am suggesting that if this person was in her life for awhile, (take away the fact that she was a nanny), why wouldn't she want to steer the person in the direction of help?
How could that ever hurt? As in, "you're fired, I can't be your reference, but I do care about you and I would like to see you get some help. Here is a list of meetings and facilities and doctors, etc. or whatever."
It would take 12 minutes.

jmt said...

That would be ideal. OP didn't offer much info about how they parted.

heather said...

are you the employer who found alcohol in her nanny's closet?
Don't worry, I'm not judgmental. I'm a huge snoop & I'm drunk right now.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

The thing is, if you were to write her a letter of recomendation or serve as a reference for her, who is to say she didn't have this problem before and no one said anything to YOU about it? I don't understand why she would WANT to use you as a reference in the first place. It sounds as if she is possibly misguided as to the seriousness of the situation. Alcholism is a "sickness" but one that should definitely prevent her from working with children immediately. Good luck, keep us updated!