Ex-Manager Sues Best Buy For Telling "Target" That He "Sucked"

Ex-Best Buy manager Michael Oliveri, may “suck,” but he’s pretty darn clever. After he was fired from Best Buy he applied with Circuit City and Target, but became suspicious when job offers from those companies were abruptly terminated.

Suspecting that Best Buy might be interfering, Oliveri created an email account in the name of a Target employee and contacted Best Buy for a reference. In his lawsuit, Oliveri alleges that Ann McCafferty, a human resources manager at Best Buy, responded:

“I will give you the skinny on him but you can’t say you got any info from best Buy or we can be sued. Just don’t hire him and say you went with a better candidate.

“He was hired as GM and demoted after 12 months or so because he sucked. He is desperate for a job because supposedly his wife left him because he has no job. I would not touch him.

“Again, do not forward this email to anybody or say where you heard the info from because we were not allowed to give this info out, but I would hate you to get stuck with this guy!”

The Philadelphia Inquirer says it’s against New Jersey law to interfere “with a prospective employment relationship.” Best Buy says it is investigating.

Ex-manager sues Best Buy over email
[Philadelphia Inquirer] (Thanks, Joshua!)
(Photo:amanjo)

Comments

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  1. snoop-blog says:

    i wonder if they are taking it VERY SERIOUSLY?

  2. DeeJayQueue says:

    wow, that’s pretty much the exact thing you AREN’T supposed to do. It would be a shame if because this guy used less that scrupulous means to find this out, that his suit couldn’t go forward.

    But what matters is, Does he really suck?

  3. The Porkchop Express says:

    sweet.

  4. smitty1123 says:

    Well, that’s pretty rude.

  5. hypnotik_jello says:

    It’s too bad they aren’t taking it seriously!

  6. Yankees368 says:

    haha, that guy from Best Buy is in BIG trouble. Why would anyone go and do something like that?

  7. Savvy-faire says:

    Hard to judge… But I’m going to go out on a limb and say that if the Best Buy guy was stupid enough to send that response to somebody simply because they made a convincing false e-mail, he is, in fact, the one who sucks.

  8. LorneReams says:

    Best Buy is screwed. No matter what happens, this will end badly for them. They will end up settling of course because an investigation will reveal that this has happened more then one time (obviously). The HR person will be fired, and she will of course say she did it because her supervisor told her, which she’ll settle for a nice package out the door to keep quiet. This is bad, bad, bad.

  9. RottNDude says:

    Folks, I know it’s easy to get worked up about Best Buy but you’re missing the important question here – does he swallow?

  10. UX4themasses says:

    Any HR person worth their weight would know not to document this type of thing. Worst case scenario, you verbally state that to the person, but never on the record.

  11. Tux the Penguin says:

    As much as I agree with the idea behind the law…

    What are you supposed to do as a company if the guy was just horrible? I mean, he’s qualified on paper to do a job, but just doesn’t have the drive to do it or worse? What if he was fired for sexually harassing employees, but that never went to criminal or civil court? I know there’s an exception if they have been convicted of a crime… but seriously.

    Then again, I guess companies just assume that if a “reference” given doesn’t give a reply, that’s essentially a negative comment.

  12. bobpence says:

    “I shouldn’t tell you this or we could be sued, but here it is in a traceable email.” Sounds like Michael is not the only Best Buy employee to suck.

  13. matt says:

    Owned

  14. Falconfire says:

    Yep its blatantly against New Jersey law. You can state you had issues with them, or they had a poor work record, but you cant say he sucked and you should not hire him. Its up to the employer to make that decision.

    10 bucks says Best Buy settles before this even sees a courtroom and that woman is toast.

  15. manok says:

    If this story is true then that HR employee is toast. Plus, how much money can this guy get from a lawsuit?

  16. LorneReams says:

    @Tux the Penguin:

    You say that you would not hire him. You CANNOT be specific.

  17. BlondeGrlz says:

    I realize this was a little over the top, but isn’t that what references are for? Aren’t you supposed to be able to check on someone’s work history? When I worked for Target, we used to get tons of calls for former employees trying to get new jobs who used us as a reference.

  18. Falconfire says:

    @Tux the Penguin: As I said you can state your issues with them. So if they did suck your alowed to tell them exactly what issues you had. But you can NOT say stay away from them. The first part of the email was all that was needed to be legal

    He is desperate for a job because supposedly his wife left him because he has no job. I would not touch him.

    “Again, do not forward this email to anybody or say where you heard the info from because we were not allowed to give this info out, but I would hate you to get stuck with this guy!”

    Everything here is what makes it completely illegal and the woman and best buy in DEEP legal shit. I would not be shocked if this guy gets a couple mil in punitive damage from this even though he is not asking for it.

  19. RottNDude says:

    Here in California the question is generally phrased “Would this employee be eligible for re-hire at your organization” or some such pussyfooted nonsense.

  20. juri squared says:

    This happened to a family member of mine, only in a different industry. We were about to do something similar (call the company asking about the reference) when he got a job. Still, the way interviewers would abruptly stop talking to him was weird.

    If you leave a company on bad terms, I’d recommend getting a friend to pretend to be a hiring company and find out what they say about you.

  21. DeeJayQueue says:

    I don’t even think you can say that. Pretty much the only thing you can say when a reference calls is “Yes that person worked here from xx/xx/xxxx to yy/yy/yyyy.”

  22. Kenneth says:
  23. qwickone says:

    @blondegrlz: yes, but certain information is illegal, which the person knew and cited that info in the email.

  24. Kenneth says:

    @RottNDude: I shake my head in disbelief.

  25. PermanentStar says:

    So, what is legal to say? I mean, obviously this was over the top, but what are your referrences allowed to say – nothing negative – if the applicant had attendance issues, or complaints made against him by a customer or co-worker, could they have said that?

    That’s not to say that what’s in the email was by any means appropriate, or legal, but I’m just wondering where the line is drawn…

  26. qwickone says:

    Can the prospective employer ask your previous one for your salary when calling for a reference?

  27. MercuryPDX says:

    @Tux the Penguin: A company I worked for would say “I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can comment on besides his starting and finishing salary, title, and length of employment.” and HOPE that the hiring manager can read through the lines.

  28. RandoX says:

    There’s a couple services you can hire to check to see what kind of references your former employers are providing. I’m too lazy to find them for you right now though.

  29. m4ximusprim3 says:

    @DeeJayQueue: In Cali, you can state: Worked here from X date to X date.

    Then, If they’re smart, they’ll say “is he elgible for re-hire”. If you say yes, it’s a good recommendation. if you say no, it’s a bad recommendation.

    If you say anything else, you just bought the guy a new maserati and enough blow to stop a snowplow.

  30. B says:

    Did I miss something? What’s the point of getting references for a job applicant if the references arn’t allowed to say anything bad about the person?

  31. JeffMc says:

    I always thought it was standard practice to ask a reference a) for permission and b) if they were going to give a positive referral BEFORE you started giving potential employers their phone numbers.

  32. darkened says:

    The big difference is whether you list Human Resources as your reference to your previous employment or whether you list a direct peer/supervisor contact. The actual peer can give real answers to questions, human resources may never other than the matter of fact ones already stated. However any person making the statements in that email have fully opened themselves up to slander, libel, etc.

  33. themediatrix says:

    Proof, yet AGAIN, that Best Buy is staffed by the idiocracy.

    For the record, if you are ever checking a reference on a potential employee, here’s the way to get the info you need: say “would you hire this person again?”

    And the way to respond to that question if someone called you for reference and the answer is no is as follows: pause for a loooong time, *sigh,* and then say “Ummmmmm…” If the person doesn’t just cut you off at that point, you can add “I’m not sure that I would.”

    Everyone wins. Except the bad employee.

  34. misstic says:

    What are the ramifications of this guy pretending to be from Target?

    Best Buy is heinous and what they did is wrong. But do the ends justify the means? Bet this gets brought up in court….

    Besides, there are companies out there that will call and check your past employment references and then report back to you so you will know in advance what’s being said before you interview.

  35. headon says:

    He got a pretty personal response from the one email he supposedly sent. I think he spent some time with back and forth emails before the HR person trusted him. Hmmm entrapment. Just a thought. I mean the guy prolly did suck and all but there is more to this than the one email exchange.

  36. meeroom says:

    This law is so ridiculous I can’t even stand it. I hired a guy two years ago, his reference said he did a good job, but didn’t elaborate. He seemed qualifed, interviewed well, and generally impressed us. He turned out to be a complete faker, knew nothing about what he said he did, and absolutely refused to take direction. If anyone called me for a reference I would feel horrible NOT telling them about him. He’s also suing us for discrimination. Thank goodness we documented his incompetence from day 1.

  37. oldtaku says:

    This is really too bad – this is exactly the sort of thing the next employer should know. If the guy is so bad that even Best Buy thinks he’s bad I wouldn’t want him either.

  38. ARP says:

    @mercurypdx: That’s exactly right, let the fact that you won’t praise him and can only give the “facts” on his employment serve as the non-recommendation. My experience is, if they liked you, they’ll tell prospective employers that.

  39. FightOnTrojans says:

    @mercurypdx: Yep, that’s what I would do at my old job. If the person in question was a good employee, I would give a good recommendation, then transfer to HR. If the person was mediocre or bad, I would just transfer to HR.

  40. BlondeGrlz says:

    @darkened: Oh, good call. In our employee reccord computer system there were dozens of codes for why someone left the company, but right at the top was “Rehire? Y/N”
    Also, the internal Target email addresses aren’t just bob@target.com, so unless Michael really did him homework, the Best Buy employee is an idiot for sending “secret” information to someone they didn’t know.

  41. Lmam says:

    @meeroom: I think the point of the law that others have referred to is that, in most states, you *can* talk about the person’s job performance (i.e. “He was always late” or “He ate babies in his cubicle”), but you can’t disclose personal information (“His wife left him.”) or specifically advocate against hiring him (“He sucks.” “Don’t hire him.”)

  42. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @JeffMc: If you have to list your previous employers on your resume, though, there’s not really a way around giving out their phone numbers. That’s not really a “reference,” it’s just something you have to do.

  43. StinkyCat says:

    Dear Prospective employer-

    I am writing in reply to your reference request for Ann McCafferty. I really shouldn’t tell you this becasue Best Buyy cold get sued, but Ann sucked. she is desperate for a job becasue we canned her ass for being dumb enough to write a bad employee refeence in an email, can you beleive it? She, as an HR manager, should have known better but her suckage apperntly was far to great to overcome the urge.

    Like I saif, you didn’t hear this from me or Best Buy.

  44. NewYorkNewYork10001 says:

    What the HR person did was totally illegal and Best Buy is definitely going to have to nail her to the wall on this.

    On the other hand, how bad of an employee must Michael have been to warrant such an over-the-top bad reference. If McCafferty has even an iota of experience in any HR environment, she must’ve known what she was doing was gonna land her in major hot water if she got caught.

    The fact that she was compelled to do it anyway speaks volumes. Sorry Michael, I hope you get as much as you can from BB because now that you’ve made this public, anyone who’s reading this story is most definitely not going to hire you.

  45. MercuryPDX says:

    @meeroom: That’s the other side of the lawsuits. When a competing company misrepresents their ex (and your soon-to-be) employee with glowing reviews, knowing full well they are incompetent and will take your company down from the inside.

  46. Brine says:

    A friend of mine had to fire someone because they were a bad employee, and shortly after he got a call about a reference for that person. He basically just answered every question he was asked with, “He had a nice smile.”

  47. Falconfire says:

    @meeroom: Well if his reference said he did a good job, then there is nothing you can do, the reference sucked (or you guys did for not following up on other ones) not the law.

    You can very well say someone was a poor employee thats perfectly legal (which is why you NEVER refer to a company who may not say nice things for you) what you can NOT say is “dont hire this guy” or give out info like his wife left him. That illegal not only in NJ but in most states.

    That being said, it sounds like someone (ie you) didnt have your bullshit deflector on. Its very easy to figure out when someone is bullshitting their way through something, and someone knows what they are doing. Unfortunately from my experience most HR and hireing groups dont know which is which till I get them and shake my head at their incompetence.

  48. ClayS says:

    @mercurypdx:

    That is exactly right. He worked here from x-date to y-date, his title was xxxx, his final salary was $$$.

  49. ekthesy says:

    @mercurypdx:

    That’s not always the case. Some companies have a policy of only verifying that the employee worked there from a certain time to a certain time, and that’s it. Basically so you can’t fudge your service time with that company on your resume.

    I have personally worked at a large company (but not a megacorporation) that did this. The reason was that HR was the only department authorized to deal with reference checks, and the company didn’t want HR having to vouch for an employee’s work. They would just look in the files and verify that yes, MercuryPDX worked for us from July 1997 to March 2005, that’s that.

    When I left that company, I made sure to get a hard-copy recommendation, on company letterhead, from my direct report. That way, my new employer could get the full story. A good idea for anyone, actually.

  50. flamincheney says:

    Having worked several years in human resources if I got a call from a prospective employer of some one we released I would simply verify employment, an say that that was all that I was at liberty to discuss. In most cases the other end interpreted what I was getting at with no elaboration.

    That said I don’t like to think of myself as the keeper of anyone else’s fortunes. I find it sad that so many are so vindictive, and wish punitive damage to ex-employees. People regardless of how they are percieved can change, and I don’t think it is up to a past employer to hold the title to their future employability. IMO it is better for both parties to just move on.

    Best Buy, and their dumbass HR employee, should fry for this. It is unethical and more importantly illegal.

  51. The Porkchop Express says:

    @misstic: if you’re looking for a job….do you really want to pay someone to do that? Especially if you’re looking at Target and you suck, and your wife left you because you lost your job.

  52. econobiker says:

    Got to love a Best Buy employee who would reply to an address maybe like JohnSmith-TargetHR@hotmail. com or such upon being asked for a employee reference.

    Almost makes you want to email them from JohnSmith-BrinksArmoredTruck@hotmail. com and ask for them to leave the next day’s cash deposit in the garbage can out in front of the store….

  53. ptkdude says:

    OK folks. There’s a huge difference between “references” and “previous employers”. A reference is usually someone specific that you worked for, who knows they have your permission to talk about you. If you put someone as a reference who is going to talk negatively about you, you just might be a moron. A “previous employer” is just that: your previous employers. They are generally only allowed to say when you worked there and what your salaries were. In this case, Best Buy was this guy’s previous employer, not his reference.

  54. balthisar says:

    @ekthesy: Same here, and it is a megacorporation. An 800 number, and only confirmation of dates and such.

    The “eligible for rehire” thing doesn’t make sense. If you’re in an industry where you’re offered a buyout, you’re not eligible due to policy, not because of incompetence.

  55. Nately says:

    @mercurypdx: I have a realtive who is a HR manager and no matter what kind of employee they were that’s the only info she will ever give out. The legal issues are just too dicey to risk saying anything else, good or bad.

  56. MercuryPDX says:

    @balthisar: Yes, but the thinking is that you would get some kind of explanation or “We would if we could, but it’s against our policy to hire employees who were bought out.” instead of a flat “No.”

  57. deadlizard says:

    The winners are Circuit City and Target who avoided an employee who
    a) sucks b) is not shy of suing. In my opinion, if you fire a crappy
    employee, the first place you want him to work for is your competitor.

  58. Shadowman615 says:

    @B: References are not necessarily the same thing as previous employers. As a general rule, if you offer references, you probably know in advance they are going to say something good about you.
    If a company goes beyond that and decides to call your previous employers to verify your employment there, the previous employers generally *won’t* (and in many cases *can’t*) give any information beyond start and end date.

  59. MercuryPDX says:
  60. Shadowman615 says:

    @ptkdude: Bah, beat me to the punch.

  61. IndyJaws says:

    @flamincheney: Very well spoken.

    Our corporate (large corporation) policy is to verify dates of employment and whether they’re eligible for rehire. Nothing more, nothing less, regardless of the quality of employee. We’re very lawsuit-averse (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

  62. IndyJaws says:

    @balthisar: Actually, I believe our company will state someone who was severed/bought out due to downsizing, rather than performance, is eligible for rehire. Not eligible for rehire is reserved for those who were actually fired for cause.

  63. richtaur says:

    Good lord how EVIL is that? I’m really getting to the point where I feel dirty just going into these stores.

  64. n/a says:

    Here is the kicker about the woman who said he “sucked”

    from that article

    “McCafferty was subsequently promoted and now works at Best Buy corporate headquarters in Minnesota.”

  65. CaliforniaCajun says:

    I had a previous employer lie about my work history to a prospective employer. I threatened to take him to court after demonstrating that his verbal report of my performance did not agree with the written performance reviews I’d accumulated during my two year tenure there.

    Turns out the guy was ticked at me because I didn’t believe in his political/moral beliefs. 9/10s of the people who work for him were hired from his church congregation, and he decided to “even things up” after I’d interviewed with a competitor of his.

    A suit is always an option, especially if you can get a copy of the background investigation that proves your former employer is trying to interfere with a job offer/investigation.

  66. misstic says:

    Like someone said upthread, the best way to handle this is to document everything! Get copies of all of your evaluations, recommendations, emails, etc…anything that deals with your job performance. Assuming you leave on good terms, asking for a letter of recommendation as you depart the company is also wise. HR policies are a minefield but you have to be smart and protect yourself.

  67. P41 says:

    So did he suck? Would be nice to know whether he was even demoted (wrong way to convey that information) and why he parted if he’s so desperate for a job.

    I had a friend convinced Marriott was badmouthing him so I called up pretending to be considering his resume. Old boss had nice things to say about him, so sometimes it’s just you.

  68. humphrmi says:

    This is amazingly stupid. 15 years ago my employer told me to not give any reference info – only start and finish date – to prospective employers of my former employees, otherwise they could get sued. That was fifteen years ago. This is well known HR mantra. If the HR person indeed wrote this e-mail (i.e. the former employee didn’t fake it) then this HR person will lose her job and Best Buy will lose many dollars.

  69. RAREBREED says:

    @ux4themasses:

    EXACTLY! All you give is date hired, date terminated, beginning salary, and ending salary. THAT’s it! As someone in the HR field, I can tell you that it’s difficult when people call for references, even for good employees, but to maintain consistency and avoid the impression of bias, those four things are the only items you should ever give! I’m surprised Best Buy didn’t refer them to Corporate! Target has a 1-800 number that gives you beginning date, ending date, and final salary…

  70. kingdom2000 says:

    If the guy goes from GM, gets demoted to fire, he probably has some serious compentency and work ethic issues. Frankly I applaud the girl for warning him.

    I have worked with enough useless fellow employees and bosses to wish that there was more transparency in references then currently exist. If people had to truly worry about consequences of their actions at one job carrying over to another, maybe they would be more inclined to do it right the first time.

  71. mike1731 says:

    @darkened: There’s a catch in what you said. Most companies I have worked for as a manager stipulate as a company employee, you cannot provide personal references. Many managers (self included) blow this off for good former employees, but if you do something that gets you/the company in trouble, they will hang you out to dry and say you violated company policy. The whole reference racket is really a joke from a much earlier age.

  72. warf0x0r says:

    Wow that guy pwned BBY something fierce.

    BBY is notorious for putting harsh little comments in employee “files” when they leave or are terminated.

  73. warf0x0r says:

    @kingdom2000: Your statement is ridiculous. If you haven’t worked at a BBY then you have no idea what can get people “Demoted”.

    I’ve known people who have received warnings for being, “To Well Liked” by the employees.

  74. lightaugust says:

    After so many months of reading about Best Buy’s incompetence here, this story kind of puts it all together. This wasn’t just someone making this mistake, this was the person who was in charge of telling all the other Blueshirts not to make this EXACT mistake making this mistake. Should kind of tell you the feedback loop this company seems to be in.

    Besides, who doesn’t know that the minute all you’re able to extract from the former employer is a date and salary that the employee sucked. And that their wife left them. Cause, somehow that’s got something to do with it.

  75. goller321 says:

    @headon: I’ve heard of REE horrible HR people that would do stuff like this without hesitation. It never ceases to amaze me how really stupid some people can be.

  76. legotech says:

    my favorite ever references story. I was in the USN and working in the Lts office. An employer called up to tell us that John Doe had left Lt Smith’s name as a reference and what could we tell them.

    “Doe was dishonorably discharged for drug use. Do you need anything else from us?”

    “Uhh, no…no, that should be good, thank you for your time”

  77. RevRagnarok says:

    Preface: I did not read everybody’s comments. I am at work, and will try to get to them tonite when I return to my hotel. However, I will throw my two cents in because I was a juror on a civil case exactly like this about two years ago in Anne Arundel County, MD.

    I think Best Buy should be screwed, but legally, I dunno since the way he caught them. Of course, he can try to get testimony from Target’s hiring folks. In the case I was on, the guy was a small business owner who was being raked over the coals. We listened to testimony from a bunch of people for four frikken days, and the two lawyers then wrote up a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style sheet that we had to come up with for answers. The first question was did we think the bad reference was slanderous? That was the root of the issue. However, the very interesting thing was the second point: IF we believe he was guilty of #1, should he be exempt because of (this other law) that specifically says that a “bad” reference that is factual is perfectly legal? So, if the state has a similar law, it may be a little harder. (After that, the questions were what damages would be awarded, etc.)

    However, how somebody can “suck” or not in a factual way for a reference can be up in the air. ;)

  78. RevRagnarok says:

    (BTW, if you just stop showing up for work a few days after a thousand dollars or so mysteriously disappear from cash funds, asking for a reference prolly wasn’t a good idea.)

  79. Landru says:

    @Lo-Pan: I have helped friends check their own references. Just come up with a list of questions.

    “How long were they an employee?”
    “How long did they work there?”
    “Would you hire them again?”
    “Were they fired?”
    “Why did they leave?”

    You really can ask anything you want, but they might not answer it. I never really had any problem doing this. I was prepared to make up a name of a company I was at but didn’t need to.

    You’d be surprised what people say, even (or especially) those from whom you expect to receive a good reference.

  80. HOP says:

    BEST BUY SUCKETH……….

  81. Boberto says:

    Yeah, he was a crappy employee (to Best Buy). Perhaps he wouldn’t play ball with the intranet pricing, or the illegal denial of employee breaks. Who knows. What I do know, is that someone went way way out of their way and exposed themselves, just to screw someone over.

    Do we really believe that it is pure altruism and love that led this HR person to to go out on such a limb?

    I see this sort of thing all the time with Nurses. They will step over each other in order to get back at someone who pissed them off 10 years ago.

    I just left a job that I did well at for 4 years. The last 3 months were terrible for me because I disagreed with management. It is a shame that my reference will be based on the last 3 months.

  82. Sonnymooks says:

    @qwickone:

    Based on a job one of my friends had, yea.

    A basic part of his job was previous employer verification.

    Basically he called and asked if such and such employee had been employed at the company, from what starting point to ending point, if the prospective employee was eligible for re-hire and final salary.

    Some companies would not disclose the final salary, but in some of those cases they were able to state a starting salary for that position or a range for that position. (i.e. in the neighborhood of, which is useless info, the spec is more important).

    He usually had no problems though getting the final salary figure. His company would then use it to make or evaluate the proper offer (if one should even be offered) to the prospect.

    The “red flag of death” was if the final salary as the previous job was higher then what the person was asking for in this job or higher then what they seemed likely to ask for.

  83. StevieD says:

    Stink Test #1
    Time to check the validity of the email as it doesn’t pass the stink test. Computer technology could allow a fake email to be generated.

    Doesn’t pass the stink test part 2. Really want to know about “Michael”, my ex-employee? Call me. Meet me at a Wendy’s for lunch and I will blab.

    Blab on an email? Hell no.

    Stink Test #3.

    If I have to do something in writing, my usual response is “Michael” was punctual reporting to work on Monday.

    That is it. The next employer can read between the lines and knows that if the best thing I can say about “Michael” is his punctuality on Mondays then there must be something that I am not saying.

    I get the same kind of goofy references on my prospective employees.

    Soooo, short of the BB HR person being Michael’s exGF, this email does not pass the stink test. Good luck next time.

  84. President Beeblebrox says:

    “I will give you the skinny on him but you can’t say you got any info from best Buy or we can be sued.”

    EPIC FAIL. This is the whole reason why every company large and small should have a policy of not releasing information concerning prior employment other than to acknowledge that the person was employed there and between what dates.

    @Sonnymooks: People do amazingly stupid things via email all the time. Google the name “Dianna Abdala” for an example. (See [blogs.wsj.com] for the email chain that made her internet famous.)

    The fact that someone wrote a smoking-gun email basically admitting they were violated company policy (and maybe the law) by passing along negative employment information doesn’t mean it doesn’t pass the smell test.

    And, the dude would have to be incredibly stupid to forge an email and then use it as the basis for a complaint in Federal court.

  85. humphrmi says:

    @kingdom2000: It may be true that the world is better off without this guy working in retail any more. But the fact is that, if this story is true, the HR person in BB severely screwed up and both that person and BB will pay.

    The problem is that, who you and I call a screw-up may be fine for someone else’s business, and vice versa. Maybe your employer gets a wild hair and decides that you’re persona non gratia. Would you like to be blackballed?

    Yeah this guy maybe deserved it, but unless the measurement of someone’s “screw up” factor can be consistently delivered regardless of employer, someone will unfairly get screwed, so it’s just better off that nobody gives that sort of information any more.

  86. GOKOR says:

    Isn’t Michael Oliveri the singer from Queens of The Stone Age?

  87. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Did he in fact suck?

  88. f3rg says:

    No way I’m going to feel sorry for a manager of Best Buy. Screw him.

  89. Sonnymooks says:

    @President Beeblebrox:

    I know people do stupid things on e-mail, I never said they didn’t. My post was in response to if you can ask what the previous salary was, and the answer is yea.

    FWIW, at my company, the e-mail use is highly restricted.

  90. Landru says:

    I’m that all these HR professionals who say “Never give anything out” always ask for as much information as they can get.

  91. brokeincollege says:

    “I’m sorry but that information is privileged.”

  92. XianZomby says:

    @Tux the Penguin: I believe the law, at least as I’ve heard it, in the places I’ve worked, says that the only question you can ask about a guy is “Would you rehire him?” And the only answer the former employer can give is “Yes” or “No.”

  93. K-Bo says:

    @xianzomby: That’s the way it was where I worked, and some people really screwed themselves over by being great workers for years, then never bothering to quit, they just stop showing up. 3 no show no calls, you are fired, non-rehireable, a good 3 year reference down the drain in 3 days, cause you didn’t pick up a phone.

  94. snoop-blog says:

    here’s the worst part: if this was target really recieving this e-mail from best buy, they wouldn’t have done anything at all. i’m shocked at how blunt this e-mail is, makes me wonder how often this happens. who would turn in a company for this, when in their eyes, it’s like saving them from making a mistake by hiring the guy. they (target) would have probably replied back like “thanks for the heads up”.

    bullshit.

  95. RvLeshrac says:

    @xianzomby:

    Actually, you can provide a specifically *good* reference. You cannot provide a specifically negative reference.

    Hence, you can tell them that the ex-employee showed up on time, but you can’t tell them that the ex-employee was late three days a week.

    This is primarily to stop employers from providing false ‘bad’ references – which many do. This is why many companies have HR departments which are far removed from the actual employees – they only have hard files to go on, with very little personal experience with the individuals in question (generally speaking). Thus, you don’t typically need to worry about the HR personnel relating “bad stories.”

    This is also why larger companies require you to sign a statement when you resign which outlines exactly who and what phone numbers can be used as business references.

  96. ninjatales says:

    He is desperate for a job because supposedly his wife left him because he has no job. I would not touch him.

    That’s the truth. When you are in need of a job deeply, there’s no one out there to help ya. When you get in thanks to a friend, everybody wants you to work for them.

  97. forgottenpassword says:

    WOW! saying someone “sucked” isnt very professional now is it!?

    If I were hiring someone & their former boss used that kind of language…. i’d have much less respect for the former boss for being so umproffessional & all credibility would go right out the window on this momo. “Yeah, he sucked! He was the suckiest suck who ever sucked!”

    I hope the manager sues & gets a small fortune & the idiot who slipped up gets fired & has a hard time getting another job.

    I dont see anything wrong with giving a FAIR, unbiased evaluation of a former employee to another company who is looking to hire them. You can say he didnt perform well etc. etc., but you sure as HELL better be able to back this up with written documentation (basically meaning past negative work evaluation reviews that the employee and the boss has signed off on) just in case it comes to bit you in the ass like in the situation above.

  98. quagmire0 says:

    Goes to show you that Best Buy really grabs down into the bottom of the barrell for their employees. The ones that are fired suck. The ones that do the firing suck harder! :D

  99. forgottenpassword says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    Just want to add, that in because I did so well in several jobs … I have had fellow employees hate me for it & do all sorts of vindictive things. If the HR employee doesnt like you (for whatever fucked up reason…. and believe me… there are tons of odd reasons people can not like you that have nothing to do with job performance)…. then good luck getting another job.

    I had a boss give me a bad reference for basically leaving him in the lurch despite me giving a month’s notice that I was quitting. People are fucked up.

  100. D-Bo says:

    Why would someone use email and then say “do not forward this email to anybody or say where you heard the info from because we were not allowed to give this info out”?

  101. Kishi says:

    I hate references. I left a job because the company was bought about six months after I started working there, and I left because the new manager would lie to customers (and employees) whenever she felt like it. I know she’s tried to sabotage one job I applied for- the manager was out of town when they called for the reference, and when the employee who answered told her about it, her reply was “Make up some bad stuff about him, I’m made at him.”

    (This was when I was still working for her. I totally don’t understand why, if she was mad at me, she’d want me to stay employed with her company, she never made sense.)

    But, on the flip side, I’ve always been told it’s a bad thing to say “No, don’t call for a reference.” So, I don’t know. Whatever.

  102. Hambriq says:

    Yeah, I mean, on one hand, I respect the right of the employer to give a bad reference if it is deserved.

    But, on the other hand, in the job search, one mediocre reference will effectively take you out of the running for a job. Putting this much power into the hands of a petty a-hole with an ax to grind makes me extremely leery.

  103. chatterboxwriting says:

    @ARP: Good idea, but the only problem with that is that HR departments in larger companies often have one person handling references and they may not have ever met someone. I worked as an HR Assistant for a 4,500-employee company and when prospective employers would call, the HR secretary would transfer the person to me and I’d give dates, titles, and salaries. I did this starting my very first day of work, so I’d have no way of knowing if someone was a good hire or a total nutcase. So, my “stick to the facts” approach wasn’t because there was something to be read between the lines, but because I really could not give any sort of reference.

  104. vastrightwing says:

    Everyone is smart today right? We all know the rules:
    A1: Bob did work for us, but we can’t tell you anymore than that.
    A2: Bob was a great employee, we miss him.

    Clearly, A1 means that Bob sucked, don’t hire him. Nothing bad was said; more importantly, nothing good was said either. Message understood.

  105. Ben Popken says:

    The only thing a former employer is allowed to say is to verify dates of employment. That’s the law.

  106. rawsteak says:

    See, this is a story that i could stand to see sensationalized in the media.

    Next on Total Access: New Jersey, we interviewed Best Buy employees about Michael Oliveri… See what they have to say!!

    Anon BB Emp 1: Yea man, he was a total douche…
    Anon BB Emp 2: This one time, he gave me a candy bar, which was cool, but then i found out it was 2 years old and past its due date
    Anon BB Emp 3: I didn’t really know him, but I said hi to him once, and he said “not so good, but not dead.” … now that i think about it, he does suck.

    SHOCKING FOOTAGE, etc.

  107. anns says:

    Interesting. I would interpret “interfer[ing] with a prospective employment relationship” as offering unsolicited advice not to hire someone or otherwise doing something that is not a typical part of the employment process (gathering references).

  108. Trick says:

    So the guy sucks yet a high ranking Best Buy tool provides sensitive data to someone posing as a Target employee…

    Real smart, Best Buy! You may not suck as bad as this guy, but you sure are far more stupid than he is!

  109. n/a says:

    @snoop-blog:

    snoopblog stop posting comments in these stories with nothing but pure url referencing back to the story, its annoying and really unnecessary. You have done this more than once on a few different articles and its nothing but disruptive.

  110. Ben Popken says:

    @Ben Popken: Actually my girlfriend tells me I could be wrong. So you can give feedback. But I’m pretty sure saying “he sucked” isn’t kosher.

  111. HappyCustomer says:

    @Brine: I love that strategy. One I heard or read somewhere, if you are the person calling for a reference, is to say something like, “I am thinking of hiring so-and-so and I would like your candid comments. However, if you do not have anything good to say, feel free to simply hang up.”

  112. n/a says:

    @Ben Popken:
    Its pretty unethical to reply to a employee asking for professional reference comments regarding someone wanting to work at that said workplace, that stuff doesnt float.