I disagree with the answers I read that indicate that you do not have a case. A more detailed intake of your situation is needed. There are anti-retaliation statutes that may be applicable in your case. Labor Code 98.6 may be applicable to your situation - it is the anti-discrimination/retaliation statute related to applicants of wage claims.
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You sue when someone breaches a legal obligation owed to you under the law. The law does not obligate your former employer -- or your former employer's HR staff person -- to provide a reference for you. So, although you can sue, you cannot successfully sue.
My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.
Yes, you can bring a lawsuit.
However, your lawsuit will not be successful because the former employer has no legal duty to provide a reference.
Moreover, in order to recover monetary damages, you would have to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the prospective employer would have actually hired you if the former employer had provided a reference.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.