When you’re leaving a job it’s important to know the facts with regards gaining a reference and what you can expect from your former employer.
Your former employer doesn’t have to give you a job reference
Your former employer doesn’t have to give you a reference letter, unless providing one was written into your contract (which is unlikely).
Even if they thought you were great, some employers are still nervous about giving job references following a spate of legal challenges to referees (e.g. when a new employer has hired an employee who has not quite lived up to expectations as a result of a mistakenly glowing reference) and some employers have a policy of not giving out references at all.
Some employers will say virtually nothing in a reference letter
Even when companies do give references, many will give ‘HR only’ factual accounts, which will merely state the position you held and how long you were at the company for.
If you feel your job reference was misleading, you can sue
If you feel your past employer’s reference was unfair, and may have jeopardised your job prospects, you can sue. However, to do so you need to show that the information was misleading, that it has had a negative effect on your job prospects and that your former employer was willfully negligent in providing such a reference.