Boss says he won’t give me a good reference letter

21 days ago



I gave 3 weeks notice to my boss that I was leaving (been in the job only a year) and he said that it was not nearly enough notice or time to find someone new and that if I decide to leave he won’t give me a good reference because of this? Is this fair - I’m only required to give 2 weeks notice right? Edit for more info: I’m working in research (academia) where letters of recommendation are important for getting into phds etc. I’m also stopping the flow of our research by leaving but I also have others to fill in for me. I’m an hourly worker and am not required to give any notice. Should I go back and fight this decision or just leave it be and ask a coworker for a reference instead?


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  • teracodaa

    2 weeks is standard courtesy- not required. He’s just being mean.

    20 days ago10891

    • Sublimed4

      He’s being a whiny toddler. Fuck him!

      20 days ago377

  • kraemoprana

    You wouldn't want a referance letter from someone like him anyway.

    20 days ago7121

    • cooky_muncher

      You’re probably right, but I’ve been here for a year and it makes up a big part of my resume!

      20 days ago246

  • NotGonna_Lie2U

    No good reference? No 3 weeks. Leave now and take a nice stay-cation before your new gig.

    20 days ago1051

    • lookinginterestingly

      Exactly this. “I was giving you three weeks as a professional courtesy. If you’re not going to be professional I guess I don’t have to be either. My resignation is effective immediately.”

      20 days ago40

  • bigfluffysheeps

    Yes, 2 weeks is the standard. Your boss is being an asshole.

    20 days ago2041

    • gfletcher1989

      It's not required.. its a courtesy, but be prepared to burn a bridge if you don't give notice.

      20 days ago19

  • ccg0306

    Don’t use him as a reference lol. Most people don’t use their current or most recent boss as a reference. You aren’t required to give any notice. You’re not their slave. 2 weeks is simply a courtesy. He’s just being an ass. Now you know not to ever use him as a reference.

    20 days ago971

    • [deleted]


      20 days ago14

  • DLS3141

    If I were you, I’d call my new employer to ask if I could move up my start date. I’d then revise my notice to say that I was leaving immediately.

    20 days ago1231

    • RunnerTexasRanger

      If you’re not hurting financially, you could just tell your current boss that you quit effective immediately and take some time off before the new job starts.

      20 days ago88

  • The9thRunaway

    This is a hissy fit. Anyone who truly wanted to damage to you would smile happily and then blindside you with a bad reference later. I would consider leaving now (depending on PTO payouts, your financial position, etc.) since there is no real benefit to you staying to maintain your reputation.

    20 days ago110

  • meme_anthropologist

    Well then cut your time short and leave immediately. Notice is only a courtesy to part amicably and professionally but if he won’t extend that back to you then fuck him

    20 days ago241

    • djrainbowpixie

      Exactly! If he wants to act like that then quit on the spot.

      20 days ago2

  • IHeartSm3gma

    >he said that it was not nearly enough notice or time to find someone new Tell him that's his fault for taking well over a month or even two to hire someone. ​ >he won’t give me a good reference Use a coworker you worked with frequently. I would NEVER trust a former boss to give me a positive reference, even if we left on the best terms and stayed in touch.

    20 days ago70

  • CamNM1991

    He's an asshole

    20 days ago210

  • SpecialistTrust9504

    I'm always surprised by how petty people get even when it changes nothing. I hope your future job is good and your boss finds some joy in his life.

    20 days ago60


    Why are you leaving? Assuming it's for another job, in that case, why do you need a reference letter?

    20 days ago70

  • paulRosenthal

    Tell him that you are quitting immediate if he can’t provide a reference letter

    20 days ago141

    • Tinrooftust

      That’s fun. Blackmail for a reference. It could hurt you if your industry is insular but if it’s a wide field with lots of players this could pay off.

      20 days ago2

  • Select-Radish9245

    Two weeks is standard, your boss is a jerk. Did you already have another job lined up

    20 days ago51

    • cooky_muncher

      Yes, the new job made me start in 3 weeks even though I requested more.

      20 days ago5

  • neodragon138

    With your edit (working in academia), people's responses are not accurate imo. The work dynamic in academia is completely different from industry. The mentality is to keep working until a project is done. However, as an hourly worker, giving three weeks' notice is still sufficient and respectful. Unfortunately, I have found some faculty in academia is just out of touch of peoples' needs/how jobs actually work. If you need references for other jobs, just like others said, getting some from co-workers is completely fine. But if you are applying for graduate programs, references must be from professors/bosses. This will be a hindrance for you. Unfortunately there no way around to getting a good reference from this boss. Maybe it might be possible to get a reference from a post-doc from your group, but professor references are best when applying for programs.

    20 days ago60

  • Jintoboy

    I've never needed a reference letter (or reference in general) for any of my jobs so far. That being said, it might be a function of the industry/job title. I also know that outside of the US, reference letters may be more of a cultural commonality. If you think you'll need a good reference from your boss, perhaps give it a thought about staying longer. Chances are, though, you can use other references (bypassing your manager directly), future positions won't ask you for references, or **your manager might give you a bad reference regardless** (I suspect that this may happen) You have the best information about your own circumstances. But I would recommend giving the 2 weeks notice regardless, and leaving.

    20 days ago120

  • REZJAM_Eric

    Sorry to hear about your situation, but I wouldn't overthink it, OP. From a hiring perspective, reference letters aren't very useful. Anyone can forge one and there are also many innocent reasons an applicant wouldn't have one from a previous employer. The only useful reference is one that HR or a hiring manager can call, and even then, you are often only able to get confirmation of dates of employment.

    20 days ago40


    If he won't for a longer than standard notice then he can get fucked, and he was never going to give you a good rec for leaving, ever.

    20 days ago40

  • riftwave77

    If my boss said that then i would have zero reason to get any work done in a reasonable amount of time. Long lunches, half days, work from home... You aren't getting a good reference anyway

    20 days ago80

  • Jaludus85

    Probably too late but I wouldn't tell him where you're going. He clearly is upset you're leaving, is taking it personally, and would love to get you fired or the offer withdrawn. I suppose you already knew what kind of person he was. How unfortunate that he's chosen to forget that he too has had to leave jobs. Good luck and congrats to you since you're boss is too toxic and selfish to say it. Get a coworker to give you the reference. Or give the number of a friend. Its terrible you have to do this.

    20 days ago30

  • Budget-Razzmatazz-54

    Get his words in writing that he is such a piss poor leader that he cannot manage to do his job and relies too heavily on blaming his subordinates.. I mean, get in writing that he refuses to give you a good recommendation. Audio record too. Make him look like an idiot . It is very telling that this boss is not worried about losing you or how to retain you, but rather how to replace you expeditiously .

    20 days ago100


    Update you resignation to effective immediately and slap that sucker on your bosses desk. Dude is being an asshole.

    20 days ago20

  • kylorensgrandfather

    Resign, effective immediately. If your boss does this it’s because they are a bad manager. You owe him nothing.

    20 days ago20

  • Elegant-Rectum

    No, it's not fair. Some bosses are just assholes. Such is life.

    20 days ago20

  • cooky_muncher

    Are bosses even required to give references? Or is it at their discretion?

    20 days ago21

    • TomorrowIllBeYou

      No one is required to give references, and in some cases, company policy will disallow people from giving references, due to liability.

      20 days ago5

  • SubwayIsTerrible

    Just send him an e mail so it’s documented. “I cooky_muncher am resigning my position at ___ effective 3 weeks from today effective Wednesday December 1”. A letter will suffice too. But e mail is better documentation. Worst thing that happens is you won’t be eligible for rehire at that company. But even that’s unlikely unless you signed something specific to policy on leaving the company when you started.

    20 days ago20

  • Sharpshooter188

    Power play. Hes being a cock because you inxonvenienced him.

    20 days ago20

  • JonGilbony

    > Should I go back and fight this decision Fight what decision? You aren't entitled to a positive reference.

    20 days ago20

  • dooloo

    I have a background in clinical research and a few degrees. I’ll give you a reference.

    20 days ago20

  • Science-Sam

    Two weeks is standard for many jobs because this is considered enough time to hire a new person with enough overlap time for the departing employee to train the new hire. But the wheels of academic Human Resources grind very slowly. They have to publish the job opening for a couple of weeks, screen dozens of resumes, call set up and conduct interviews, draft offer letters, and do onboarding administration before the new employee can start. No way a new hire could start in two weeks from the moment you give notice. This is why just one week is common. What exactly is your position and why are you leaving? Do you plan on grad school? I might be able to give some perspective on the letter recommendation.

    20 days ago20

  • CyoteOneOne

    I would caution against what a lot of the top comments are saying to just mess with the guy and quit immediately. A bad reference for your new job (assuming one is still required) might do anything from setting you off to a bad start with the new employer to getting you fired. If that doesn't become an issue, there's always the next job which might ask for reference from the previous two employers (note, I have always been asked for this!). If I were you, I would try politely reminding your current boss what your contract says. If he doesn't let it go, I would try to extend your notice to accommodate them. Your next job should understand (but don't scuttle a relationship with them by pushing it too hard). Yes, your current boss is a jerk, but at the end of the day, references are important and can haunt you - be careful

    20 days ago41

    • cooky_muncher

      I have already received an offer for a new job which wants me to start in 3 weeks.

      20 days ago2

  • Aintthatthetruthyall

    Just tell him you want a good reference in writing today or you are done today. Write all this down. You likely have legal repercussions if he does indeed follow through with his threat.

    20 days ago11

    • TywinShitsGold

      You can’t force someone to write you a positive reference.

      20 days ago9

  • sharpiemustach

    I haven't read through all these OP, so I don't know if anyone said it yet...but just get a letter from one of the grad students or post docs in the group. If the PI is being a dick and not willing to give you a reference, they are probably lazy and you don't want one from them anyways because it will just be a stock one. Find one of the senior group members or whichever one you've worked with the most and have them write you something when it comes time to apply somewhere. As someone who's sat on committees looking at undergrad applications, even if it's for something important like grad school, a well written letter from a grad student is just as good or better than a generic one from a professor.

    20 days ago10

  • cooky_muncher

    That’s what I thought? Is he allowed to give a bad reference just because I left the job? That makes no sense.

    20 days ago11

    • Whynotchaos

      No. He's actually not legally allowed to say anything other than confirm that you worked there and what dates. If any future employers call your previous jobs. Most of them don't. Also, you're not *legally required* to give ANY notice. It's a courtesy. If he starts giving you shit, tell him you gave him two weeks to replace you and that's plenty if he's halfway competent... or he can step in and cover for you right then, when you walk tf out.

      20 days ago2

  • AffectionateAnarchy

    Use someone else. I never use my bosses for references

    20 days ago10

  • bearbutt1337

    Where I'm from, one month is minimum if you're an hourly worker and two or three months is standard if you're on a full time contract. This obviously isn't the case in the states, but it puts things in perspective. But since two weeks is common courtesy in your culture I'd say your boss is being an asshat.

    20 days ago10

  • FleeRancer

    If your new job asks for contact information with companies you previously worked for. Do not give your boss' contact information. Find someone from HR (probably the one that took you through orientation) and have them be your point of contact

    20 days ago10

  • MoistMough

    I wouldn’t worry about his reference. Put your time there on your resume. He’s just being a selfish dickhead.

    20 days ago10

  • 15021993

    Don’t know how it is in your country but in my it’s a law that they have to write one and they have to rewrite it until you’re satisfied lol But if not possible than at least write down what you have done and let them sign it. Can’t argue with that I hope

    20 days ago10

  • rokken70

    I had a boss threaten me with that, I just didn’t use them as a reference.

    20 days ago10

  • Heero1988

    Legally they can’t really do much. Sure you can’t use them as a reference but if they check employment history legally they can’t talk bad. Those checks are did so and so work here? Ok thanks

    20 days ago10

  • rhodan818

    He is telling you that you can leave anytime you like because you are not going to get a good reference from him no matter what you do. I hope you have a friend there you can use, otherwise youll just have to say that company has a policy of not giving references - which is less of a big deal than you think it is. Any place that is going to be a stickler for something as old fashioned as references is not a place you will want to work at in the future anyways.

    20 days ago10

  • mired914

    I'd tell him to give me a good reference letter or today will be my final day. (Unless you really need the 2 weeks pay)

    20 days ago10

  • ionmoon

    When applying, you will be asked for (typically) 3 references. It is great if you can give at least 1-2 from your most recent position, and ideally someone who supervises you (though not necessarily your direct supervisor). Personally, I only call the people who are provided to me by the applicant. After hiring, HR calls previous employers to verify employment dates, but that's it. This will vary by field and employer, but it is likely it won't be an issue. I'd say "Thanks for the heads up." And move on. If you are quitting because you were already hired somewhere else, then it is completely irrelevant as you will want to develop relationships at your new job to use as future references.

    20 days ago10

  • RyusDirtyGi2

    He's a dick. But also...nobody has ever asked me for a reference letter. When people ask for work references I always just use peers that I got along with instead of managers.

    20 days ago10

  • Jangofett47


    20 days ago10

  • kf707

    I’ll do your reference letter.

    20 days ago10

  • dope_like

    You don’t have to give any notice. Don’t list him as a reference. I have never had a job that asked or call a reference

    20 days ago10

  • Interested956

    And I'm sure if he were to fire you that he'd be so gracious as to extend a two weeks notice to give you time to look for new employment. Yeah right! If he can't find someone to fill in, that's his problem. You did your part and you did it wonderfully and very generously. Like others said, you don't have to use him for a reference, don't worry about that. He definitely is in the wrong.

    20 days ago10

  • BumblebeeAny

    Ha I gave a 2 weeks notice once, was fired the next day...their response as to why? "To protect the company from having clients stolen. " which mind you I was going into a different line of work and didn't care for the clients. Bosses are assholes

    20 days ago10

  • Arn_Darkslayer

    Maybe point out that him giving a bad reference opens him up to a liability lawsuit.

    20 days ago10

  • Chazzyphant

    Where are you located? I'm assuming outside the US because "reference letters" haven't really been a thing here since like the 90's. I can only speak to the US, but 2 weeks is a courtesy. I bet if they wanted to downsize or fire you they'd have no issue with showing you the door on the spot with no notice. Now...having said that. If you're in a very small business of like...5 people and you're in a vital role and you didn't let your boss know you were looking and figure out a succession plan that's a jerk move. It's the professional thing to do to give a head's up and work through a plan to transfer your work etc. I would just chalk this up to "lesson learned", work out your 2-3 weeks or whatever and move on.

    20 days ago10

  • Cxc292

    Fuck that guy, quit now and you just got your self 2 weeks off. Holding a reference letter over your head is a total bullshit move.

    20 days ago10

  • kaaria11

    If he is not going to give you a good reference anyway, two things. Find some company letterhead to take with you and leave now.

    20 days ago10


    To clarify, is he going to give you a bad reference if a prospective employer somehow gets in touch with him? Or simply, offer no reference at all to you? I don't normally suggest/encourage this sort of thing, but if your boss is suggesting that he'll only have negative things to say about you, if asked, then what do you have to lose from leaving in 2 weeks? Or, a week?

    20 days ago11

    • cooky_muncher

      He said he’ll be sure to write about this incident - meaning that I left with little notice and left him in a difficult position.

      20 days ago1

  • tinkerbellonfire

    I think most places know ur previous version employee won’t be fair since you decided to leave regardless and ppl r petty. That’s why most places don’t even do references.

    20 days ago10

  • curry_boi_swag

    Notice isn’t required. Your boss is a dick. You can leave today

    20 days ago10

  • statice_666

    Two weeks is courteous enough, three weeks is absolutely plenty. You should check out r/antiwork ! Lots of good info for workers on there. Edit: also ask him in an email why he wont write you a reference letter, and then send it to your HR. Make sure you get it in writing that it’s “because 3 wks notice isn’t enough”(which is looney, it’s more than enough warning). Cover your bases, OP, and don’t let your dimwitted asshole boss make you feel less than or guilty. You’re doing what you should.

    20 days ago10

  • Tuelegend

    let me guess. you are working for a **small company** and you are more or less the **only employee**. the boss sits around all day "middle managing" orders where he gets an email forwards to you and immediately calls for you directions instead of him doing it himself. you sound like a <25 year old person with limited work experience that needs the reference in order to advance your career. bottom line is that you are out of luck. they probably wouldn't give you a positive reference even if you gave them 3 months to find someone new claiming that they are "busy" because you left and they had to pick up your slack. yes, 2 weeks is standard but as you can see on antiwork and other job related subreddits. they do not want to go through the hassle of finding someone new, training them and pay the price of their mistakes that they might make. instead of paying you for the retention bonus they rather hope that they can pocket the profits themselves. if you can get a co worker for a reference that would be great but it looks like in your situation that you are all alone and that you shouldn't even had worked for this place at all to begin with. the lack of reference will hurt you down the line when you need to advance your career instead of working minimum wage in a small family company in hopes of "family culture"

    20 days ago10

  • Boring_Upstairs_8361

    You’re not required to give any notice. Also why use him as the reference? Go to the HR person and ask.

    20 days ago10

  • No_Brick3924

    Screw that dude, just quit. Ask your mom to be reference

    20 days ago10

  • Savan88

    >I’m only required to give 2 weeks notice right? You're not "required" to give any notice (depending on where you live). A lot of places are "at will employment" 2 weeks is a courtesy and You're not responsible for them having time to find a replacement that is their problem. The two weeks courtesy is so that you can hand off any necessary work properly

    20 days ago10

  • NormalCurrent950

    Why isn’t there a yet? Management needs to feel the crush of receiving a poor rating from their employees.

    20 days ago10

  • turboAP1

    I’d just use a buddy’s name and contact info for a reference and claim they work there instead of your current boss

    20 days ago10

  • hennytime

    Shit that's a great way to not get any kind of a notice. Don't go back.

    20 days ago10

  • Upset_Ad9929

    Reference letters are mostly useless unless it's your first job after college, or you're staying in academia. Most hiring managers, if they're interested in references, will CALL them.

    20 days ago10

  • mickiCH

    Tip 1: Start the reference letter process immediately. If you don‘t get a good letter by end of next week just don’t go to work anymore. Tip 2: Do everything in writing also the part that he forced you to 3 weeks else wouldn’t give a good letter. Then you have a proof. If things turn ugly either use this to report to compliance after you leave or going to court. Source: I am in Europe and with a lawyer got e very nicely corrected letter after 1 year… insurance payed the costs.

    20 days ago10

  • rkaniminew

    Say this, "In this job market, I could have given you zero weeks notice- and I think I just might unless you'd like to give me a reference letter now? Which would encourage me to not just stop coming in for the rest of this month." Be assertive, your boss clearly thinks you're a doormat.

    20 days ago10

  • VerySaltyScientist

    This sounds exactly like one of my old jobs. I gave a month and he pulled that. I also saw another comment that you are in research. Was this job for biochemistry research and at a large Texas university by chance?

    20 days ago11

    • cooky_muncher

      What do you mean he pulled that? I’m not in Texas

      20 days ago1

  • maximusraleighus

    Just don’t mention him, put the work experience down and then try to get someone unrelated to you to be the reference.

    20 days ago10

  • downbleed

    Honestly with him acting like an asshole in that way, you probably should have left right then if you can afford it

    20 days ago10

  • jnuttsishere

    I’d tell your boss if that’s your preference, then my notice period is changing from 3 weeks to effective immediately. If you can’t give me a professional courtesy, I don’t owe you one in return.

    20 days ago10

  • Idiot_Weirdo

    Don't give him 3 weeks notice then if his mind is made up

    20 days ago10

  • KaleidoscopeDan

    Not even required to give two weeks notice in most situations, that’s is a courtesy.

    20 days ago10

  • laridance24

    My boss did the same thing. I gave her a months notice and she said it wasn’t enough and that I owed her longer than that after five years at the company. Um, no I didn’t! I knew she would never give me a reference, even though I have been at a different company for over three years. Two weeks is the standard.

    20 days ago10

  • DarkReaper90

    Get a coworker's. Reference forms are pretty shallow. They don't dive deep into what specific projects you've done, mainly have you worked with them to what capacity, and would you recommend them.

    20 days ago10

  • klenow

    Assuming you are in the US : You aren't required to give any notice. 2 weeks is just the commonly accepted polite length of time. You don't want a reference from him, anyway. It's actually "nice" of him to tell you; it's good to know who to leave off your reference list.

    20 days ago10

  • Legal_Proposal_6621

    Prolly not fair but they can say whatever they want so do not list him as a reference. Just use a colleague you got along with.

    20 days ago10

  • Mephistepheles13

    You gave more than enough notice. Your boss is being a jerk because he knows in this labor market how hard it is to replace you. Don’t forget to mention it in your exit interview and let that bite him in the buns. Also, I second asking your new employer if you can move up your start date. Don’t forget, you are not required to tell them where you’re going. I certainly would not based on your bosses behavior alone. Feel free to cite fear of retaliation as your reason.

    20 days ago10

  • jhelmste

    I assume you are in an at will state. You aren't required to give notice. They wouldn't give it to you

    20 days ago10

  • sportsfan42069

    Here is a fun fact about references: giving a negative one carries tremendous liability. I have managed a number of people, and the policy has always been "you can share start/end date and core duties" or in other cases, "forward reference calls to HR where we will confirm start/end dates and core duties". I would not hesitate to list him as a reference if one is required for the new job. Otherwise, if you are looking for a letter for future use. Give him 6 months and then make contact again. This guy sounds like a baby so maybe give him some time to see he feels differently after the "sting" of losing you wears off.

    20 days ago10

  • rynkydynk

    If you have any other managers that like you, you can ask them to be your reference. I rarely ask my actual boss for references unless I'm close with them, because so many of them are butthurt the second you put in your notice. Other managers are more likely to represent you fairly in my experience.

    20 days ago10

  • Tinrooftust

    You aren’t required to give him any notice at all. He is entitled to not give you a reference. You know your quality. If you have done good work and provided value then not getting a reference is about him being a dork.

    20 days ago10

  • Givemeallyourtacos

    Your boss is a fucking dick. If you got cash and runway, the job is secure, don't stick around for 2 weeks, let him figure it out. And make sure to tell HR why you went this route, email it and CC yourself a copy.

    20 days ago10

  • Jeam_Bim

    If you're in the US, you don't have to give any reference for a typical job. Unless you need the money, I would just not show up anymore and enjoy a 3 week vacation.

    20 days ago10

  • Friendly_Ad_22

    You aren’t required to do shit if you are quitting. Giving 2 weeks notice is a courtesy that they obviously don’t deserve. I’d walk out now if it doesn’t make a difference then.

    20 days ago10

  • Maximum-Occasion-780

    Last company I was at sucked ass. But when verifying employment they would only confirm position and dates to avoid being sued for sabotaging people's employment prospects...

    20 days ago10

  • itsadogzlyfe

    Use a friend.

    20 days ago10

  • AsleepYellow3

    From personal experience don’t use bosses as a reference. Use a friend who is your coworker to pose as a supervisor. I’ve had penalty of toxic managers that I would never use.

    20 days ago10

  • ChaoticxSerenity

    You're not even required to give 2 weeks, it's just a professional courtesy. You could literally quit right now and he can't stop you.

    20 days ago10

  • Scruitol

    You can let your boss know that in that case your resignation is effective immediately unless they provide you with a signed letter of recommendation on company letterhead.

    20 days ago10

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