In this age where communication has become free and easy, falsehood and innuendo have become confused with the truth and the decent. As recruiters we are seeing the injustice this can impose on innocent bystanders. Merely to have worked with someone who is the subject of public scrutiny – whether justified and true or a lie – can really spoil the careers of the innocent. Even in an economy as talent-deprived as South Africa such victims may be denied career growth or even a job. Such people have no recourse or defence as usually nothing is said overtly.

There is no real solution for these peoples’ plight other than to call on potential employers to look into themselves to see why they reach the conclusions that they do. Critically evaluate what has been said. And then give the ‘tainted’ a chance to defend themselves against a charge which does not really exist.

Something similar can be said about a poor reference given for a potential employee and whistleblowers. The whistleblower issue is a tale for another day.

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