What is the name of your state?What is the name of your state? massachusetts
I recently applied for a job and after two days of interviews in which I met 6 different people, the company was very interested in me, and the next step was to check my references. Of the 3 references I gave them, one was great, the next good, but the third said BAD things about me! I was shocked because all I had ever heard from this boss was that I did a great job. It was an unpaid internship, and she asked me to stay another month, which I did, and she said that I could come back the following spring for some paying work. (I did contact her the following spring, but then she said that she could not afford to pay anyone to do the work).
I listed her as a reference because I knew that she was familiar with my work and impressed by it. I knew that she didn't like me as much as the other intern at the time, but I thought that was entirely irrelevant because she liked my work. I called her to ask her why she was not giving a good reference and she said that there were "issues" while I was there and some things that she said I did that were "unprofessional." But she was entirely vague about what these "unprofessional" things and "issues" might be. The employer was also surprised, as this reference was so different from my others. My potential boss there called me to see if I could explain why this reference said these things. What I heard from this potential boss was also vague, just that it sounded like there were "personal problems," like I may have been difficult to deal with or something. After this I sent the potential employer 10 or so more references, pretty much everyone I've worked with, even though these references were less relevant to the job I was applying to than the 3 I orginally gave.
It seems clear that this former boss has some personal issue with me, and is just being vindictive. I've talked to co-workers from this internship, and they cannot imagine what negative thing she could possibly say about me, and they also suspect that it is something personal. I know that one of them has now given a reference to the potential job and defended me.
So can I sue this former boss for slander? She doesn't seem to have any legitimate complaint and I may not get this job now. Obviously I would not have listed her as a reference if I thought that she would have anything but good things to say about me. The company was very interested in me before this incident, so if I do not get the job, it will likely be because of her bad reference.
Do I have any recourse here? Especially because what else does one expect from an unpaid internship besides a good reference? If she was planning to say bad things about me in a reference, shouldn't she have let me know beforehand so that I would not list her?