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I am retired, and with all the recent layoffs, I’ve been asked by former colleagues if they can use me as a reference. While I was still working, we were told not to reply to any of these calls or e-mails, but to forward to human resources. Are there any guidelines that I should know before I reply?

When it comes to references, there is often a difference between what an employer says about a prior employee and what a former employee says.

In most states, employers are protected from liability for relaying true information that is without malice to a former employee’s prospective employer. If an employer makes false statements or acts with reckless disregard, the employee may have a case. Many employers have policies that they only confirm the title and dates of employment. What happens in real life is that employers give off-the-record recommendations for good employees, and for less favorable employees, they only offer the dates of service and titles. There’s a wink and a nod, and everyone understands. As a former colleague, I don’t see any risk at all in giving a reference, particularly since you are free to pick and choose who you will provide references for (presumably those about whom you have positive things to say). And if someone you aren’t comfortable vouching for asks for a reference, you can politely say that you aren’t in a position to help.

My grandson just got a new job and gave his old company two weeks’ notice. They told him to go immediately, and didn’t pay him for those two weeks. Can a company do this?

While it is good form to give your employer notice, you don’t have to, and they don’t have to accept your leaving date, unless they have a policy stating otherwise. There are only a handful of situations I can think of where a company might want someone out that day and not honor the notice, most notably if the employee is leaving to go work for a competitor. Tell your grandson to continue doing the right thing and to not let this burn a bridge with his now-former employer. You never know who you might meet or work with in the future.

Gregory Giangrande has over 25 years of experience as a chief human resources executive. E-mail your questions to Follow Greg on Twitter: @greggiangrande and at, dedicated to helping New Yorkers get back to work.

Filed under at work ,  career advice ,  go to greg ,  8/2/20

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FEC boss says there is a ‘substantial chance’ we WON’T know if Trump or Biden won on election night

VOTERS may have to remain in suspense for some time after election night as mail-in ballots will make it difficult to know just who wins on the day, FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub predicts.

Weintraub backed up her call by pointing to an expected increase in mail-in voting, which will potentially delay the announcement of results until after November 3.

2 FEC commissioner Ellen Weintraub has warned that mail-in ballots could mean the results of the presidential election are delayedCredit: Getty Images - Getty

“Let me just tell everybody, we’re all going to need to take a deep breath and be patient this year,” Weintraub said on CNN’s New Day.

“There’s a substantial chance we are not going to know on election night what the results are.”

Mail-in voting is projected to be an expensive affair, with Congress already having shelled out $400 million for such voting programs, as well as voter safety initiatives. Weintraub doesn’t believe that this sum is enough to get the job done.

“They really need to allocate more money now. I’m very concerned about this, and that is the No. 1 priority right now,” she said.

“The entire operation is going to be much more expensive.”

President Trump has heavily criticized mail-in ballots, slamming them as extremely vulnerable to tampering and inaccuracy.

“There is NO WAY (ZERO!) that Mail-In Ballots will be anything less than substantially fraudulent,” he tweeted in May.

2 President Trump has heavily criticised mail-in ballots, asserting that they will allow rampant voter fraudCredit: AP:Associated Press

Weintraub dismissed these concerns, asserting that mail-in ballots are secure.

“It’s been done before. It’s safe. There is no substantial risk of fraud involved in absentee voting,” she said.

Weintraub also said that mail-in ballots are seen by experts as the same as absentee ballots, which President Trump has endorsed.

The FEC commissioner put forth the recent primary election in Kentucky as evidence of the growing relevance of mail-in ballots, as an increased part of the population voted by mail. She said that mail-in and absentee voting is the “preferred alternative” for many.

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Weintraub warned that this concern might apply to more elections than just the presidency.

“Probably for the presidency, but maybe for many other races that are important to people, and that's OK,” she said

“If it takes a little bit longer to count all the votes accurately, that's what we need to do in order to ensure that everyone's vote counts.”

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