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Qualified Privilege for Reference Statements, September 2012

The following 31 states have qualified privilege laws for references provided in good faith: AK, GA, IA, MD, NM, OK, TN, WI, CO, HI, KY, MA, NV, OR, TX, WV, DE, ID, LA, MO, NY, PA, UT, WY, FL, IL, ME, NC, OH, RI, and VA.

While some states offer an “absolute” privilege, most offer a qualified privilege, and that means, typically, that the privilege is lost if reference statements: Are knowingly false Are not made “in good faith” Are made with malicious intent Are made with “reckless disregard for the truth” Are made in violation of a nondisclosure agreement Contain information that is confidential under law

Many states also require that the request for a reference be made by the employee or prospective employer, and some states require that the request and/or the reference be in writing.

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