I'm not too sure how the law works in the UK as opposed to the US but welcome any advice or feedback on what follows...
Since February I have been in the running for a position working for a US based business but based in the UK and dealing with the UK HR department. The good news is that I was offered the position and what followed was a contract which looked fine, signed and returned. I gave it a 4/5 days to let the documentation arrive and made a call to my contact in the US who I would be reporting into, he said 'have HR not been intouch?!'. Clearly they had not been in contact with me, the conversation went on that there was an unsatisfactory return from one of the background checks - past employer reference.
The history surrounding my past employ was that we didn't get along, mainly due to the fact that pre-employ I was promised a whole load of things that never materialised and when I managed to get a meeting (14 months after I joined, should have been 3!!!) with the MD (who I reported to) he started bawling and shouting and said that our conversation never took place! I know it took place, made notes and lets remember that this meeting was before I handed my notice in. I pointed out that he had mislead me prior to joining the company and that he was lying about the conversation taking place. Anyhow communication actually broke down to the point where the MD put another person inline between myself and him and made it his mission to make my life difficult. Now I never received any disciplines during my employment or anything that could or would be documented in my records so my work and conduct could not be challenged.
Now getting back to the dilemma...
The hiring company HR requested details of two past employers who they could seek references from, my heart sank knowing that I would have to either discuss this with HR or contact my old MD and ask if he would provide a reference - I went with option 2 and emailed him. He returned an email saying not to hesitate in using him as a reference contact, so I did.
But now it turns out that he has set me up and stabbed me in the back!!!
I dont know what has been stated because in the UK Confidentiality laws will not allow it but I can request a copy under Data Protection laws. Clearly I want to recover from this situation as I believe it is possible to do so knowing the background.
I contacted HR, explain the situation and have requested that the reference that they have from this contact be dismissed due to the credibility of the person writing it, personality issues we both had and the fact that he had stated that he would provide a reference not an attack on my career. (Which I am told is illegal to do, you dont give a reference or just provide the basic info).
Recovery - I have requested that HR disregard the bad reference and use 2 references from contacts who where director/shareholder level within the same business, who no longer work at the business and who I believe are honest people and it looks as though they are following my request. But the decision, will ultimately by made by the US Hiring Manager under advice from the European HR Director who I have been dealing with. This bad reference is clearly a personal attack.
One other issue is that I received a letter a day after initially talking to the US and finding out the bad news. It contained a cheque for £1000 as a goodwill gesture and I believe to be as a silence because they sent signed contracts out before performing their own due diligence. If all goes well the cheque will be destroyed bu if it goes badly I believe that this amount is very low as compensation as I could have given my notice in and be unemployed because of their ineptitude.
What a nightmare!