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Redditor Called Out For Giving Former Friend A Negative Job Reference Because She’s A ‘Flake’

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We all know how important a solid job reference can be, but we also know there are certain things expected of us when acquiring these references.

One of those tasks would undoubtedly be to not put a burned bridge down on your list of references, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

A Redditor, who has since deleted their account, was surprised to be called by a workplace, inquiring about a job reference for a woman they used to be friends with.

Because of backlash, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if they were wrong to be honest during the call.

They asked the sub:

“AITA for giving a former friend a negative job reference?”

The OP used to have an unreliable friend.

‘Katie’ and I were friends for 5 years. Being chronically ill, she often flaked on plans when her sickness was bad.”

“I was always understanding about that, but it wasn’t the only time she would flake.”

“She would also flake oftentimes because her anxiety was too much or because she just didn’t feel like it anymore. All last minute.”

“If the flakes were for group things, I would have to be the one to break the news because she didn’t bother to tell anyone else.”

Trying to have a conversation with Katie about it ended the friendship.

“I always tried to be understanding since something or the other would always be going on with Katie and I didn’t want to pile onto her existing stress.”

“But eventually, enough was enough and I tried to talk to her about how I felt. It didn’t go well, even though I tried to be calm and do it in private.”

“She blew up at me and told me she had more pressing issues to worry about than missing a bunch of stupid get-togethers I plan all the time and wouldn’t hear me out the one time I decided to say something after 5 years of being understanding.”

“That was a while back.”

The OP recently received a surprise call.

“Present-day, I get a call from someone who says Katie put me down as a job reference (we met at an old job and used to do this for each other).”

“I didn’t want to exactly take the high road since I was and am still hurt but I also didn’t want to lie or sabotage.”

“I said something along the lines of, ‘I’m sure the quality of her work is impressive and she does all her work well and on time, but she is prone to missing hours due to her health and would often have to leave work mid day due to personal issues.'”

“This wasn’t untrue. There was a pattern of it when we worked together and she would even tell me when she would do it at jobs thereafter.”

But the OP began to second-guess what they said.

“Nobody ever followed up afterward, but my partner, despite not being happy with Katie’s behavior, says that this could have been the job that changed everything for her, and I could have at least just left it at, ‘She did good work when we worked together.'”

“I thought I was just being truthful but now I’m wondering if it was an AH move to say what I did.”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some said the OP could have done a better job with the call.

“YTA. I have one of those chronic silent illnesses. I flake, OP.”

“Trust me when I say that I want to be normal. I don’t want to feel tired all the time or hurt. I don’t want to get anxious when I am feeling good because I might get an attack if I go out.”

“It’s very difficult and yes, it limits you. And worse than that you put limits on yourself.”

“What you did is very much TA.”

“She made the mistake of putting you as a reference, but you are the a**hole. Trying to ruin someone’s life because they weren’t feeling up to getting a few drinks.” – Good-Groundbreaking

“I feel like flaking on plans doesn’t apply to health conditions, either.”

“If you’re in so much pain or so sick that you can’t handle going to lunch with friends, it’s different than if you oversleep or cancel at the last second because something better came along.” – kainu-chan_love

“I think the real problem here is that OP hasn’t been in touch with her ex-friend in ‘a while’ and rather than saying she has no recent information about this person and she, therefore, declines to be a reference (a very legit thing to say), she brings up old health problems (that may or may not have been resolved) to trash her.”

“That’s why I vote YTA.” – EinsTwo

“You don’t HAVE to give someone a good reference, and OP didn’t have a canned, spun response like that prepared because she had no idea she was being used as a reference to begin with.”

“We’re not all perfect with our verbiage on the fly like that.”

“Mentioning health issues wasn’t the best, but if she was late and/or flaky you can just say that to a hiring manager, it doesn’t have to be vague corporate-speak.” – The_RoyalPee

Others said Katie should have checked in before listing the OP as a reference.

“Katie was on strike 3:”

“1. Listed someone she hadn’t talked to in years;”

“2. With whom she had outstanding, unresolved issues; and”

“3. Didn’t even give her the courtesy of a text asking if it was okay.”

“If you’re willing to play it that fast and loose with your application then, IMO (in my opinion), you get what you get and have no grounds to complain.”

“Maybe OP doesn’t come out of this smelling like a rose but she could have done so much worse.” – Vilnius_Nastavnik

“It makes you wonder how many bridges Katie has burned that she thought it would be a good idea to put down someone she had a massive falling out with as a reference?”

“Even if you are on good terms with someone you always give them a heads up if you are using them as a reference.” – PaddyCow

“Agreed that Op is an a**hole.”

“However, I feel that Katie should have reached out to OP to check if she can use OP as a reference. That’s a professional faux pas. Further due diligence on her part could have avoided this situation.”

“I know that my friends would have my back but I still give the courtesy of asking them.” – hello_friendss

Some also didn’t think the OP did anything wrong by being honest.

“Being honest about their ability to consistently be in the office isn’t going to ruin someone’s life and no reference is required to lie. If she’s an otherwise strong candidate and the employer is fine with a flexible schedule then OPs reference would be perfectly fine.”

“If the job requires an employee to be physically present then an employee who requires a flexible schedule wouldn’t be the best fit.”

“Like if Katie was applying to be a teacher, for example, a flexible schedule is really not doable for that job, but for lots of jobs – especially these days, many employers would think it’s fine, especially combined with OP’s comment about Katie doing good work and meeting deadlines.” – scpdavis

“NTA – they worked together; Katie was honest about missing lots of work after that, but mostly because the OP was put down as a reference and spoke honestly.”

“If the company and job are flexible, they’ll work with Katie. If they’re jerks or unable to accommodate her, it’s better that they don’t hire her.”

“Also, ask before you put someone down as your reference.” – Honeycrispcombe

“She was flaky with work commitments as pointed out by OP. It is totally relevant. For years (and multiple jobs), Katie has been unreliable at being on-the-job for the work hours assigned.”

“Even if she gets her work done well and on time, this flaking out of work hours regularly would be problematic at many companies because other employees would notice and wonder why they had to stay 8 hours/day when Katie flakes out regularly.”

“NTA, OP.” – Billowing_Flags

The subReddit understood the OP second-guessing themselves, as the sub’s feelings were divided, as well.

On the one hand, being honest during a job interview or reference call is ultimately the best for everyone, even if the applicant doesn’t get the job.

But bringing up health concerns is questionable and likely shouldn’t be mentioned unless it’s specifically required.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.