You and the Law – 3rd January 2012

Character assassin

I took my previous employers to an employment tribunal a few years ago, and as a result I think they are giving me a bad reference when I apply for other jobs.  Is there any way I can find out if this is the case, and would I be able to sue for defamation of character?  RM

It’s possible that one of the firms you have applied to will tell you what your former employer is saying about you.  You may also, under the Data Protection legislation, ask your former employer for a copy of your personnel records and any recent reference that they hold on file.  If they are giving the reference over the telephone then getting proof may be difficult.  But if you are able to establish what they said and it doesn’t correspond with your work record at the firm there are a range of legal remedies that you should discuss with a solicitor.

Buggy injury

My wife was run into by a motorised buggy in a supermarket.  They’re provided by the supermarket for elderly people to use.  She had the trolley shoved into her midriff, bruising her ribs and her leg, and she is still in pain four weeks later and receiving treatment from her GP.  The supermarket says it’s sorry and have offered us a £20 voucher.  Is it worth taking it further?  PS

Assuming your wife has now recovered fully it probably isn’t worth pursuing this, especially since the supermarket may not be held to blame for the accident depending on the checks and assessments they carried out.  Obviously the ‘driver’ of the machine was primarily responsible. If your wife had sustained more serious injuries then it may have been worth looking into whether the design of the buggy was partially to blame for either the accident or the injuries, in which case the supermarket may have been liable.  However, I imagine an ordinary supermarket trolley could be equally dangerous in the wrong hands!

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