Employer Deals with the Fired Nanny's Reference Request

Received Thursday, April 3, 2o08- Perspective & Opinion
We recently terminated our nanny. A quick explanation of why- part of her responsibility was to keep our two sons equipped with the clothing and supplies they need for school and their activities. We trusted her with a credit card and everything appeared fine. Our eight year old son let it slip this weekend that the nanny had bought herself a pair of athletic shoes when she took him to get some sporting equipment. As soon as he let it slip, he tried to back up over his words. When pressed he explained that she had told him not to tell us. We asked if she had ever done it before and he said yes, than no, and then I don't know. He just turned eight. I was 10 times more furious at her for compelling him to keep a secret than I was about the theft. We fired her by phone. My husband telephoned her and very firmly but gently told her her services were no longer necessary. Today, I received two phone calls from potential references. The nanny did send an email to me on Tuesday reminding me that I had encouraged her to help herself to anything she needed. (True, but I was referring more to trips to Whole Foods and Magnolia's.) In the email, the nanny also offered a heartfelt apology. So much so, I am over my anger towards her. Here is my quandary, because of what she did, again not specifically the theft but doing something so sneaky and stressing my child out over the fact that he was keeping and then let go her secret, I cannot be a reference for her. She said she has learned from this experience and loves working with children and cannot have a gap in her work history. Employers, how do I diplomatically handle reference calls? I don't want to ruin her ability to work again. She is young, (23 years). Advice?


TX Nanny said...

23 years old is old enough to know better. This woman does not deserve to work in a home where you need to completely trust your nanny. She can apologize all she wants, she knew what she was doing when she did it, and would never have apologized if she had not been caught. She's lucky you are so nice, but please be nice to future families and do not give her a reference, she does not deserve it.I can't believe she used the ol' help yourself to whatever as an excuse! I'm sorry but as a former nanny this really ticks me off, I have been trusted with my employers credit card and I don't even buy myself lunch with it, much less shoes.

mom said...

Hmmm...well, you certainly can't tell some unsuspecting person that you recommend her when you know that she stole...and ESPECIALLY that she coerced your child into keeping secrets from you.

You are right that the secrets are the worst part of it. Getting kids to keep secrets is just how child molesters get away with it. Your child needed to be taught and to know absolutely that any time anybody asks him to keep a secret form you or his dad that the first thing he needs to do is TELL you, no matter what the person has said or threatened him with to insure his silence. As a good nanny she should have known that and been teaching him never to keep secrets from you...not putting him in the middle of her crime.

And her "reminding you" that you said to help herself to what she needed...PLEASE! She knew exactly waht you meant. She was just trying to manipulate you into thinkin git was all a misunderstanding...and maybe she is now manipulating you with the "sincere apology" now that the "reminder" plan fell flat. She knew very well that you didn't mean "help yourself" to the use of your credit cards for shoes and other items. If you need proof of have it in your son's fearful, troubled face. No secret keeping is necessary when one is doing what one innocently believes to be above board. I am quite suspicious of her apology also. Manipulative people know how to manipulate. And she knows that you could prosecute her as well if she doesn't somehow get this smoothed over satisfactorily with you.

I'm glad you can feel forgiving towards her because, for your sake, continuing to be angry serves no good purpose and now you can simply move on and forget about it. But don't be fooled by her again. She is deceptive and manipulative.

You can't in good faith lead another family into believeing she is a decent nanny candidate. However, you could potentially get into a sticky legal situation if you say anything outright negative about her. (Too bad, since that makes it nearly impossible for new employers to get any real information about potential new employees.) I wonder what would happen if you were to say something like "We had to let Mary go. Perhaps I am not the best person to be listed on her resume as a reference. You may ask her to explain the details further herself if she wishes to elaborate." I can't imagine that would get you into any trouble...and if I were hiring a new nanny and heard that from a reference I would consider myself duly warned that there may be an issue with that candidate.

Have you considered the possibility that these potential "new employers" are actually her friends and family members calling to scope out what you are going to say about her if she uses you on her resume? If she asks you directly for a reference I would simply say, "I'm sorry. You know I can't do that."

This is not a sales clerk job she is looking for. She will be with somebody's precious child in their absence.

shel said...

regardless of apologies, she lied to you AND pulled your child into it. what else has she told the child "not to tell mom and dad"?

for a reference, you need to be honest with other potential families. you can tell them that she did a good job of caring for your child, but she was dishonest on occasion. then it will be up to the prospective employer to ask more questions of her.

think about it this way: if you called a reference about a possible new nanny for you, would you want them to be honest with you? of course.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. I was recently fired because I sat a 21 month old child beside me on the counter while I washed 2 bowls. He was crying because his dad was leaving and I was trying to hurry and do the bowls so his dad could leave.
I have only worked for the family a couple of weeks but other than this offense, I have had a great relationship with the parents and children. I was suprised when I was fired over this action instead of warned not to do it again. I was right beside of the little boy, so I didn't feel like I was endangering him, but now that I look back on it, I see that it wasn't a good idea. My question is, do families normally fire their nannies for relatively small offenses like this? {PS, I am reliable, on time, do more than asked for the family, volunteer to do extra errands using my gas and car, and am otherwise extremely careful with their children.}

Anonymous said...

Be VERY careful. Telling herself to Help herself could be called implied permission. In many states, you are only allowed to verify employment, length of time employed and would you re-hire the applicant. Anything further can land you in problems with slander and liable. I am not condoning this nannies actions, but you must look after your own legal well-being. If you aren't sure about the laws in your state, err on the side of caution. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

People do this all the time. I was once fired for, according to the mother, leaving the pool gate open. Now, what really happened (and she would never admit that she made a mistake), was that I babysat my charges on a Saturday night while mom and dad went to dinner. We (kids and I) swam and then locked up before they went to bed. Parents come home (quite intoxicated) and take a late dip in the jacuzzi, I am assuming leaving the gate open then, as the oldest child remembers me putting the lock on and told mom that 1000 times. Around 5 in the morning, the youngest child (4 yrs) was found splashing in the low end of the pool.

My question was, how did the child get outside first of all, especially without being heard in a house that had door chimes? And, more importantly, with a lock I know he can't reach, it seemed that the problem wasn't just the pool gate, but the back door as well. Some people have real issues.

OP- In this case, don't give her a ref. Just say you can't, because of the situation.

Nanny L said...

I would confirm the dates that she worked for you and not elaborate any further. It does not sound like you can/should recommend her, but you also said you don't want to "ruin her ability to work again". (I'm sure she will miss you as an employer; you sound beyond reasonable and considerate.) Giving a negative reference can be pretty risky for you and I would not want to delve into that.

You may also want to email her and tell her you will confirm her dates of employ, if it is the gap she is worried about, but are not comfortable elaborating beyond that. Maybe you could offer her a signed note stating her time with you, that she can show people, in lieu of them contacting you? I'm sure you are also busy conducting your own nanny search and fielding calls/emails from her potential new families may not be a fair use of your time.

Anonymous said...

6:43 PM
If this had happened with a family you had bee with for a couple of years they would have had confidence in your judgement, and probably at most, suggested you not let --- sit on the counter.
Being with the family for only two weeks, you were still in a trial period. Anything that they felt showed poor judgement would probably scare them.

mom said...

Do you really think she should tell people that nanny "did a good job with the child"...considering she stole from hbis parents in his presence and told him to lie about it? I think that was far worse than the stealing.

6:54 You make a good point about "implied permission," but I think the child's testimony about how he was instructed to lie would clear that little
"misunderstanding" up in a jiffy.

Still, OP, the advice people are giving you about being very careful of what you say is very good.

I once fired my housekeeper because she began sending her daughters in her place more and more often. That was fine until I found out the daughters kept (and never told the mother) about the Christmas bonus I had handed them the week before Christmas and said specifically, "Give this to your mother. It is her Christmas money." I figured it out when she was still asking me in February if I had a nice Christmas. Finally I asked, "Did you get the money I gave you?" She said, "No none of my ladies gave me any money." (She had been sick that whole week and the daughters filled in for her...and apparently kept all of the bonus money. I checked with a friend who said she had also given the daughters a bonus to give to their mother.) Anyway, I had to fire the mother when she started sending the daughters almost exclusively and I no longer trusted them. I said nothing to anybody else in the neighborhood, although many people I knew used her. As it eventually turned out, the daughters were robbing people blind all over the neighborhood. I felt terribly guilty in the end...but had I destroyed her business by ratting them out myself, I would have been in deep doo doo legally. It really stinks that we have to be so careful even when warning somebody about a truthful situation.

Rebecca said...

I'm not even going to address the fact that she lied to you since, as you say, you are no longer angry with her. You say you want to "diplomatically" handle the reference calls, but feel you cannot give her a good reference. I think you should just tell the nanny that you are happy to confirm the dates she worked for you, but that you don't feel comfortable saying more than that. Tell her that you don't want her to give your number out, but that you are happy to write a letter or be contacted by email SOLELY to confirm employment dates.

I agree with the others that giving a bad reference could be a problem for you, even if you aren't worried about how it would affect her (which you say you are). Also, when someone has you on the phone it's pretty difficult to avoid giving a positive or negative opinion - what do you do if they straight out ask you, "Was she a good employee and would recommend her?" If you say "I'm not comfortable answering that" it would obviously have negative implications. I really think the only way to avoid that is to tell your nanny that she cannot give your number out, but that you can give written confirmation of employment dates. If you really want to be kind (I am NOT stating an opinion on whether or not I think yo should be, or whether or not she deserves it) you could tell her that you will also tell potential employers - in a letter or email - that you are not on bad terms, you simply do not wish to be contacted at this time.

cali mom said...

I think what she did is completely unnaceptable, and she knew you'd think so too or she wouldn't have sworn your son to secrecy about it.

The fact that she has apologized combined w/the fact that she told your son not to tell you about it pretty much confirms her guilt from a legal standpoint. So I think the previous suggestion of responding to the question of "would you recommend her?" with "I'm not comfortable answering that" would be an honest answer that would NOT specify any wrongdoing on her part but should imply it, thereby conveying what you want the callers to be aware of without you being accused of any slander. I read once about such situations where a former employer (at a compmany) might respond to that question by saying "hang on, let me check with our legal department to see what I am allowed to tell you about Mr. X".

cali mom said...

Make that unacceptable...

Anonymous said...

I'm a nanny and would never think to use you asa reference if I did something like this (which I have never done) I wouldn't return the phone calls to the potential employers and also tell her why you don't want to be used as a reference. What if you gave her a good/ok refernce to find out she does something like this again at the new place, it could even be a worse secret next time. When it comes to caring for children you can never be too careful. If you do give a reference make sure you let them in on this situation, maybe not specifics, but let them know she encouraged him to with hold information from you, she clearly knew sneakers was not part of your "help yourself" or she wouldn't have had the children not to tell. Also think about how you would feel if you hired and the person you called for a reference had this happen, yet they never mentioned it to you...I would be upset.

TX Nanny said...

I understand that everyone is concerned that from a legal point that you not get specific but this is not a corporate job this is someone that worked in your home and who is trying to work in another home.
The only family I didn't really mesh with gave me a OK reference but called me a clock watcher and said I couldn't wait to run out of the door. (I watched their 18 month old twin boys 50 hours a week and lived 45 mins from them and they were always late) This really made me mad but there wasn't much I could do.
I helped my last family find the nanny to replace me and the agencies send out detailed reference letters from former families the nannies worked for and they didn't always have great things to say. That's why nannies put up with so much sometimes because we know one little thing can ruin a reference that we've worked so hard for.
This woman stole from you and talked your child into lying to you, that is completley unacceptable and in my opinion should end her nanny career. One thing a nanny needs is good judgement as we are role models to the children we take care of. She needs to look for a new profession.

Anonymous said...

I'm not taking employment law until next year but I am really surprised at people saying that you can't give a negative reference. What is the point of checking references then? Isn't truth an absolute defense to slander, libel and any other kind of defamation? If you were to just give the facts of what caused you to terminate her, I just don't see how you could be liable. I guess I will be learning that next semester.

erics mom said...

I would make the nanny pay me back for the shoes she put on the charge card. O.P. do you look at your statements that come in monthly? Ask for back copies from the credit card company. Maybe, she racked up some major personal expenses.

Anonymous said...

I know in California when answering someones call for a referance you can only state dates of employment and state whether they are capable of being rehired. Of course at that time the person can offer up good things to say...but not negative things that are sometimes left to interpatation. Its a slippery slope stating anything negative.

Anonymous said...

I left out from above (califonia reply) I cant believe this gal even put you down as a referance..I wouldnt have been so stupid to expect a woman I stole from and taught their children to deceive me to use me as a referance. This gal maybe should get out of the nanny business.

mom said...

Maybe you're right. Maybe OP would ultimately be vindicated on the slander charges because truth is an absolute defense to a slander accusation. However (and you will learn this all too well when you begin practicing law) could cost her an arm and a leg in legal fees to get that vindication. Worth the chance? Doubtful.

But please OP, don't pass her onto another unsuspecting family simply because you are no longer mad and don't want her nanny career to suffer. The idea somebody suggested above about saying "I'm not comfortable answering that question" is PERFECT. It speaks volumes...while at the same time saying nothing at all.

nyc mom said...

I am about to have a similar (though much less obvious) dilemma. We are not going to continue to use an occasional weekend babysitter for a variety of reason that all come down to a lack of common sense and poor judgment. However, she is a generally nice person, reliable, on time, and flexible. She just can't seem to make good decisions on any basic childcare situations unless I specifically spell out *exactly* what she should do in advance. Since I cannot possibly think of every conceivable issue that might arise, we've decided not to use her anymore. I have tried addressing all the problems and examples of poor judgment directly with her, but it hasn't improved.

I know she will be looking for a new job shortly afterwards and am really torn on how to deal with references. I would absolutely want someone to be honest with me and do want to do the same. So I will convey her lack of judgment to potential employers even though I think she is a kind person. I would simply never forgive myself if I did not and something bad happened to someone else's child.

So, OP, in your case I think there is no question. You need to tell callers the truth. Stealing and trying to manipulate your child reveal a core problem with her character. This is not someone who should have the opportunity to care for anyone else's children. I truly believe you have a moral obligation to try to prevent any future harm that she might cause because there is certainly enough evidence to suggest she will. I know it can be hard to say these things to callers, especially if you liked your nanny on some level (and it sounds like you did). You have two choices: refuse to be a reference; or be an honest reference and convey her strengths and weakenesses. I vote strongly for the latter.

On another note, I once considered hiring a full time nanny I interviewed. However, when I called her sole reference the past employer had many negative things to say (and started the conversation with, "I don't know why she keeps listing me as a reference when she basically left me high and dry with no notice."). During the course of the call, we realized the nanny had told many, many lies including basics like how long she had lived in the US, etc. I was so incredibly grateful to the past employer for her honesty. Sometimes when I don't get return calls from references I chalk it up to the past employer being busy or disinterested. Please, please, do the hard thing, return calls, and give a complete and thorough reference.

Anonymous said...

Hr department here. In ca you are allowed only to say the dates of hire and if you would hire them back. If you decided while chit chatting to talk bad about someone you can be sued.
We once hired a guy with great references from a former employer,
6 Months later after theft of thousands of dollars and firing this person I met someone at a meeting who had worked with this person. He had been fired for the same thing in their place of work.
They could not tell me why this person was not working for them anymore when I called for a reference because they did ot press charges.Unless you have a police report on file, I would be very very careful telling someone that she stole from you or made unauthorized charges on your credit card with out proof or having pressed charges. Children also are not good witnesses.
Especially ones as young as the OP.
The best thing you can say are the dates and if they ask you if you would hire that person again, be honest and say no. Thank them for calling and hang up.

Anonymous said...

If I "helped myself" in this way and got fired for it, how
could I ask my employer to be a reference?
To me your nanny sounds extremely manipulative, since she tried to hide her actions, then tried to shift the blame on you - you encouraged her - oh yeah? so why did she tell your son to lie about it, then?
I do not know what you are allowed to say legally, but please make sure that you do not give her a good reference. She should not work in a household, where trust is the basis of the relationship.

Anonymous said...

She's only apologizing because she wants a referance.

atl nanny said...

I can't believe she would have the gall to list you as a reference. Does she not have other work experience and other references? There is no reason a nanny (or anyone) must use EVERY former employer as a reference. So if she has other good references, she shouldn't need to bother you at all. This sounds like yet another lapse of judgment (though not as major a lapse as stealing and coercing your child to lie!).

As many others have advised, I would encourage you to ask her not to use you as a reference. If she continues to do so, confirm the dates she worked and no more. There is no need to bad mouth her. Not only could it open you up to a lawsuit, but interviewing parents will understand that something went wrong if you refuse to do more than confirm her dates of employment.

Anonymous said...

I have a lawsuit influx against a former employer for libel, slander, defammation of character, intentional infliction of emotional distress and a few other things. I've had 23 people deposed, but this has taken longer than you would ever believe. I am suing for 6 figures, my employer is very wealthy but that makes people more hesitant about participating. I'm going to get my $$$ believe me and when you do, it's going to be m-ther f-cking glorious.

Anonymous said...

10:42 here - thanks for the clarification Mom. It's sad that references really aren't worth much anymore b/c everyone is afraid to say anything negative... but I understand the cost and time of litigation and agree its not worth it. I just didn't realize this happened so often. You would think someone with a bad reference would know they deserved it but I guess I am putting to much credit to those not worth employing.

puss 'n boots said...

I agree with all the posters that stated your nanny needs another line of employment.

She broke a very important rule in childcare, and that is trust. I can only imagine how much distress your son is going through, especially if he liked her as much as you seemed to.

You don't say how long she worked for you, but if it's enough that she's worried about an employment gap, I can understand why she needs you as a reference.

This nanny definately has no moral fiber and I suggest telling anyone who calls, very bluntly, "No. I would not hire her again".

How do you know she hasn't done anything worse than steal, lie, deceive and manipulate?

Anonymous said...

My husband is a lawyer (and my father too) so we have seen mre than enough of people being sued for the most ridiculous of I'm sure you are also aware b/c of the cases you go through in law school all day long. A lot of times people with a very slim and shady claim will go ahead and sue anyway, with the help of a "marginally ethical" (that's being generous) lawyer on a contingency basis, because it is well known that many "deep pockets" will settle even bogus lawsuits for some amount of money rather than go through the process of a lawsuit. It stinks and its why lawyers in general have a bad reputation. And it's why you can't even say the whole truth anymore for the protection of somebody else.

I once observed the parents of a child at our karate school (who babysat for other children in our karate school and were driving them all around) leave during the children's class for about 20 mins and then they came back in and sat by me reeking of marijuana and clearly stoned. After class was over, they loaded all of the children up into the car and drove off. I was completely appalled. I spoke with the owner of the karate school to confirm that this was not a consentual situation with the other parents. She said what I suspected...that she knew the other parents well and that there was no possible way they would leave their children in that situation. She then told me that for legal reasons she would not tell the other parents herself, but suggested I do so. My hubsand told me that my "evidence" was not sufficient and that I could not legally tell these other parents because we could easily be liable for all of their lost income if anybody should fire them because of my "slanderous" comments. I was very upset and felt terrible. He then pointed out that it was late in the evening when these parents smoked (and that they obviously did it on a regular basis)and that if the other parents had any sort of clue and enough concern about who was watching their children they would not only smell the marijana on them when they arrived to pick their children up, but would also notice how completely stoned they were. After all, its not something that goes away within the hour. Still, I hate it that the evil are so protected by our laws, while anybody who tries to do the right thing is punsihed by our laws.

Anonymous said...

I agree that you should not provide a reference for your nanny. Just let her know you are not comfortable doing so and to stop listing you as a reference.

It's disgusting how she stole from you. It's definitely stealing and it's horrible how she tried to dig a hole out by saying "you said I could help myself to anything". If she was so sure, she wouldn't have asked your son to keep that secret.

Anonymous said...

Do like a business does...

"Yes, she was employed by me... her job was terminated and NO I would not rehire her at any point because of the grounds of termination. That is all I have to say. Thank you, good day."

fox in socks said...

OP, if potential future employers of the nanny are calling you, you must be honest with them. You must tell them that you fired her because she not only bought expensive unapproved things for herself with your credit card, but more importantly she urged your children never to tell you and to keep these things secret from you.

It would be crazy for you not be honest. Would you really want someone to leave this out if you were calling them about someone you wanted to hire???

It is your moral obligation to be honest with whomever calls you for a reference on this dishonest nanny. It is less problematic that she stole and was dishonest for you, although this is terrible. It is unforgivable that she told your child to keep quiet about her theft.

You are obligated to be honest and forthright with anyone who calls.

Anonymous said...

OP I like what fox in sox has to say here, although I do urge you to get legal advice before saying any of that. Maybe there IS some way of safely and legally telling the truth (wouldn't that be GREAT), but be VERY careful.

By no means should you let any person who calls you for a reference think that this was a good nanny. Say it discretely if you must, but somehow let it be known. She needs to be in another line of work entirely until she either grows up or develops some character and morals. Paying the serious consequences of her reprehensible actions might just be the wake up call she needs.

Anonymous said...

OP have you now decided that you are not going to provide a reference for a nanny that stole from you?

I'd say to her:
You have 2 options one i don't give you a reference

Or 2, I do. And I say you were employed by me for a certain period of a time. Got terminated for purchasing a pair of shoes on my credit card and told my son not to tell anyone. And your excuse was that I said you could use it for anything in need. Though the story didn't make sense to me because of the sworn secrecy.

Make a pick. Because im not lying to anyone who will hold me liable.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good to me.

Anonymous said...

This all makes me wonder... can we not give a bad reference anymore in fear of a lawsuit? I don't see how proof of purchase to back up a story of termination can be considered slander or what ever you want to call it if it was true. It's not like she's calling everyone in the neighborhood with a warning to not hire her. She's just being honest.

chick said...

If you are called for a reference:

Yes, she worked for me from X - X.

Any questions about job performance, answer honestly.

When asked if you would hire her again, say, "No."

Why not? "Because she was fired for cause."

You needn't elaborate. Just saying you wouldn't hire her again and that she was fired for cause should be enough to alert potential employers, especially if you are neutrally positive about her job performance.

Anonymous said...

I find this seriously alarming that we cannot report to another potential employer a nannies performance.

What if said nanny was abusive? What if she was neglectful and caused harm to the child?
I'm not saying bad enough to call authorities on her, but definately enough to fire her.

If your nanny got really upset with your child one day and grabbed her arm and yelled at her. Not quite enough to call the police, but you'd want her the hell out of your house (if you didn't kick her ass first) ...
Why can't I warn a potential reference that she did this? (Providing she was ballsy enough to use me as one, such as the one in this post?)
Why would I take a chance that nanny has another bad day and does it again to the next child?

I would feel totally responsible for it.

Anonymous said...

That's why you have to say it, but carefully. Something like, "I am very surprised that Mary used me for a reference. Because I am concerned about the potential for litigation, I do not feel comfortable giving you a reference about this particular nanny. I'm sorry. I hope you can understand and appreciate what I am saying, but I am unable to elaborate on her specific performance," or whatever it was that somebody else above said. If I heard anything like that from a reference I had checked I would run for the hills.
Say it without saying it.
You saw the post above, I assume, where the nanny is expecting a judgment in the 6 figure range because of what her employers said about her. If you say anything about somebody and they sue you, you have the burden of proving it was true (or that you had a darn good and rational reason for believing it was true) after the fact. You may win in the end...but be prepared for big legal fees getting there...possibly more than oyur would have had to pay her for her claim right up front. It stinks but it's true. Our justice system is a little twisted that way.

Author of P&O Post said...

I appreciate all of your advice. The advice I liked best was to the order of "I'm surprised that X used me for a reference". After reading all of this advice, I really am surprised and a bit put off that she is putting me on the spot like this.

Thank you everyone. I will be saying the above and confirming the dates. If pressed, I will say she was terminated with cause but I will not elaborate.

Anonymous said...

While I understand that we feel it is our moral obligation to tell potential employers why we dismissed someone,we need to think about what can happen. Law suits are not cheap! Maybe if the woman asks why she left your emply you should say that "you will have to discuss this with her". That could give a warning to her almost new employer that something happened but you cannot talk about it. Let your ex employess expalin what happened!

Anonymous said...

OK, so I actually went and asked my husband what he would do in this siutation. (A lawyer.) He said that while it is perfectly legal to state exactly why you wre unhappy with an employee (as long it is all true and provable), the reason most employers will give no more than dates of employment and disclose whether the employee left "voluntarily" is because they simply do not want to deal with the potential hassle of a lawsuit because of the cost and aggrivation, even if they know they are in the right and will (probably...nothing is a guarantee in the law...sometimse the good guy loses) be vidicated in the end.

He said what he would say to people who called him about this nanny if he were OP, he said he would say, "She worked for me from the dates 'x to y' and I cannot give her a good recommendation." (I, myself, would also add the part about being surprised that she listed you as a reference. But not if you give her permission to do so.)

He did also say that you would probably be safe in stating as much (but nothing more)detail as she admitted to in the e-mail she sent you where she admitted everything and apologized...because you have that "proof" of her guilt readily available. That is under the conditions that you still have the e-mail (keep several hard copies and try to keep it on your computer as well, in case you need to get the ip address down the road to prove she wrote it) AND ALSO provided she admits pure guilt in the e-mail and does not try to qualify it by claiming that it was a misunderstanding of the "help yourself" offer.

mom said...

When I was pregnant the last time I was bedridden for most of the summer. I thought about hiring somebody to be in the house to play with my kids, make them good meals and pick up after them.
I interviewed a seemingly wonderful woman who played sweetly with my toddler daughter the whole time we talked. I was going to be home the whole time so I wasn't too overly worried about references and all of that, and I knew she had worked in our neighborhood before. Thankfully I didn't hire her on the spot, but told her I would let her know. Thank goodness a woman from my neighborhood, who had heard through the grapevine that I was considering hiring this woman, had the guts to call me unsolicited and tell me what a nightmare this woman had been when she worked for her! She did me a real favor and I very much appreciated it. Not wanting to cause a problem for the kind neighbor woman, I didn't tell the potential employee why, but I certainly didn't hire her.

mom said...

PS OP, I'm sure you realize that you need to have a very serious talk with your son about the dangers of adults who tell children to lie to their parents. Now you also have the more difficult task of making sure he does not feel responsible for anything that happened, does not feel guilty for keeping the secret from you for so long, and does not feel responsible for the nanny losing her job...while at the same time letting him know how proud you are of him for finally telling you the truth.
Good luck.

Anonymous said...

This woman is a thief and you do not need to put your reputation on the line for her. Don`t get it with some of these nannies who think everything is for the taking. I was once a nanny and like her had my employer`s credit card. I never once thought to use it for my own personal gain. My reputation meant everything to me. I was able to get a very good letter of recommendation from my employer. People should be allowed to take responsibility for their bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

To touch a little deeper on Mom's post:

Most children are brought up to respect adults, and when you have one especially in the position of authority such as a nanny .... it can really make them feel intimidated, and it will ensure their silence.

I remember when I was about 7 y.o., I missed my bus from Sunday school. A respected Elder from the Church gave me a ride home.

I remember every detail on the way:
He warned me of strangers, and how they could hurt little girls like me. He said they would do awful things like touch me, and in the process he did and said: "like this". I was terrified.
When he dropped me off, he made me swear never to tell anybody ... ever.
And because of who he was, and my fear that nobody would believe me, I never did.

I know this is an extreme case, but I think it's a perfect example of what can happen when children are made to keep secrets from their parents.
I hope every mom & dad out there tells their kid that no matter what, they can always come to them, and to never hide a secret from them.

Anonymous said...

that woman who clalled you unsolicted needs to be knifed in the throat. shes prolly a liar did you think of that?

cali mom said...

Uh, 9:34, you are "prolly" a shitty excuse for a nanny who teaches her charges that if you're mad at someone you should go ahead and knife them in the throat?

mom said...

Ummm, no. She was my best friend's next door neighbor and a very decent person. So no, it never occurred to me that I ought to knife her in the throat. But I did thank her and was very appreciative for the warning, you sociopathic freak.

undercover regular said...

"sociopathic freak"

Anonymous said...


I'm a 25-year-old nanny. I've been with my family for two years now. They've said "help yourself" with regards to food, and they've been very accomodating in other ways as well, but... it's a biiig stretch to think it's okay to use someone's credit card. A big one.

She knew it was wrong because she asked your son not to tell. I don't care how heartfelt her apology was, it doesn't negate the fact that she definitely knew it was wrong to do. I mean, if you'd said "help yourself" and it wasn't a problem, why wouldn't she have just told you "Hey, I bought some shoes with your card today"? Yup.

She earned the gap in her work history. She'll survive it, too. Don't worry about it.

Anonymous said...


I think it's fine that you did not hire the woman based on a rumor. But that is what it was, a rumor. And if you knew the person telling you, that's one thing.

I don't agree with the suggestion about the knife of course. lol.
However, I guess it just depends on how much you trust the person telling you the rumor. A best friends neighbor is not the same thing as someone you know personally.

But it is your kid, after all. Any negative words hurt, true or not.


anonymous1 said...

to refuse to give any reference can sometimes be effective in a quiet way

jen said...

just don't call them back, and let calls from unfamiliar numbers go to voice mail for a while.

fox in socks said...

I'm surprised so many commenters are urging the OP and someone in a similar circumstance to refrain from giving a truthful and well deserved negative reference.

Anytime you do something that affects others negatively you risk a lawsuit. The point at issue is whether it is justifiable or reasonable or not. A nanny who got fired for making children support theft and lying to their own parents hardly has a chance to win a lawsuit based on the facts of the case.

Society and community only functions properly when we can rely at least somewhat on strangers to tell us the truth when it comes to references.

If everyone followed the advice on this thread to basically not give out negative references, we could never trust anyone's reference, because everyone would be too afraid to give them out.

OP and everyone else, we are all depending on each other to give truthful references on nannies. The CHILDREN are at issue here. Isn't this why the blog exists?! So, grow a pair and just tell the truth to those who call looking for references on this lying, stealing "caregiver" who encouraged the children to be dishonest with their own parents.

Trust me, a disenfranchised "nanny" who is so desperate as to steal and make your kids lie is not going to have a lawsuit that can stand up in court, and she probably won't even have the where-with-all to mount a lawsuit in the first place.

Stand up and do the right thing, people.

mom said...

The point is that you can give a sufficiently negative reference without actually saying anything tangible.
I certainly think she deserves a bad reference because others should be protected from hiring her, and there is a certain moral obligation there. But it can be done in such a way as to leave OP vulnerable to huge legal bills. It sucks, but that's the reality of our society today.

To the person who thinks my friend's neighbor passed along a rumor. No, she wasn't a stranger. I knew her...not well at the time...but enough to trust her...and my friend knew her quite well. What she said turned out to be true. I got to know her better later as my son grew up to be her favorite babysitter for her little boy.
But even so...I don't think I would have taken a chance (these are my kids after all)on hiring any nanny that a former employer held in such disdain. It may be unfair to some nannies who truly worked for psychos who unfairly give them bad references...but again, these people watch our kids. It's just not worth taking the chance on that now "iffy" stranger.

fox in socks said...

Hi Mom, I certainly understand that "the point is that you can give a sufficiently negative reference without actually saying anything tangible." The OP giving a truthful negative reference about the nanny will not result in huge legal bills.

Something to consider (not directed just at mom but everyone):

Suppose your neighbor asks you if you think a certain dog walker is good and you say no that she is terrible and therefore your neighbor does not use the dog walker. Do you really think you are going to get sued by the dog walker and will really risk huge legal bills?

What about the children of the parents who hire this nanny. Supposed they hire her because the OP was not forthright in her assessment and reference of the nanny. Then suppose harm comes to the children as a result of lies the nanny makes them tell to their parents, related to a theft of hers. Who do you think could genuinely be sued, and the suit would probably be successful?

Oftentimes on this blog, people conflate employers of nannies with employers in general. Huge corporations are governed by certain laws that pertain to interviewing, maternity leave, etc. These laws are designed to protect everyone from discrimination. But they generally don't apply to a small family hiring a nanny.

mom said...

Fox in socks,
Believe me, I would be the first to want to give an-depth, detailed descripton of this nanny's horrible acts. And I have encouraged OP several times NOT to leave any potential employer thinking that this nanny even might be a good choice. I do think there is some degree of moral obligation there in that regard.

Unfortunately, somebody CAN sue for ANYTHING they choose.

I hate that that's true...but it is. And even if they don't win, there are legal fees involved in the vindication process, even for the completely innocent. Lawyer fees range greatly, but I know of several who charge in the $600.00-$700.00 range per hour (and it's often more in California and New York.)

You never know which slimeball with dollar signs in their eyes is going to go after a windfall, even though she is the one at fault in the first place. But being that this nanny has already proven herself to be dishonest and unscrupulous, its not like OP has her good character to look upon as assurance that she will be honest.

I do hope she will be as frank as possible with any person who calls for a reference...while at the same time protecting herself. Both are possible at the same why bother taking a chance by venting needless details to a stranger?

undercover regular said...

I say, whatever OP decides to do, she must keep the e-mail with the heartfelt apology (and admission of guilt, by the way) - just in case.

It will protect her in the end should this nanny have the nerve to sue her.

Anonymous said...

7:28 wrote:

"I think it's fine that you did not hire the woman based on a rumor. But that is what it was, a rumor. And if you knew the person telling you, that's one thing.

I don't agree with the suggestion about the knife of course. lol.
However, I guess it just depends on how much you trust the person telling you the rumor. A best friends neighbor is not the same thing as someone you know personally."

So 7:28, does this mean that when you contact references you only believe the ones that are personally, and very well, known you you? That's what a reference is--somebody who has hired the employee before you and is able to speak form experience about her job performance. Why bother with references at all if you consider them to be only "rumors?"

Anonymous said...

You do seem to be skipping over perhaps the wisest course of action. In my home, the telephone is answered by our Domincan houskeeper. When a reference has dared to phone me, the Dominican housekeeper has said, without prompting, "she's no good, she was fired. she's very bad for the children. My boss is not here now, but I will tell her to call you.". Of course, who has the time or inclination to make that return call? Not I. So the next time the person calls, should they call back, the housekeeper will say, "her attorney says we cannot discuss why she got fired".

Two times fired nannies have had the audacity to list me as a reference and both times, our housekeeper handled it with panache.

Anonymous said...

You are a coward.

Anonymous said...

Hang on....she said you told her to 'help herself'. If she was so comfortable doing that, then why did she have your child lie? Obviously, she knew the true import of your words and she knew she was going beyond that. So don't take the apology. She isn't sorry - she is only thinking about how this affects her work history.

If someone calls, just tell them that you are not comfortable giving a reference. A smart person only gives references of people they KNOW will give positive reviews. At the least, she should have asked you if you would give her a reference (though a smart person wouldn't even consider asking someone who fired them to give a reference, kwim??) Obviously, she has some serious lack of judgement going on......

Anonymous said...

.... and don't forget the common sense skills!

Anonymous said...

I would not be her reference. True, the worst part is your son! ugh. Poor guy. He shouldn't have been introduced to so much stress. Clearly the nanny knew she was doing something questionable.
I read a comment about another nanny who didn't buy lunch with their employers card/cash. Pahlease. I'm a nanny, and that i would and will always do. clean your nose!