my boss will give me a bad reference

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A reader writes:

What do you do when your current manager has shown he or she will purposefully give unflattering references to leaving employees? He won’t directly speak negatively or lie, but will purposefully sound unenthusiastic.

Our department has had significant turnover in the past year, and our department head is not happy about it. A coworker listed our department head on her job application but specifically said for him to not be contacted. The potential employer contacted him anyway, and our manager purposefully gave an unflattering reference. (My coworker

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