Legal Issues Regarding Faculty Referrals and References

It is strongly advised, that for both referrals and references, faculty receive a copy of a signed consent form from the student for the following reasons:


Faculty or staff who refer specific students to employers on a regular basis may be considered an "employment agency" in some states. For the purposes of compliance with EEO laws, those individuals may not discriminate in those practices. (e.g. refer only white males, or select by race, religion, national origin, or gender)


To help protect faculty, employers and students, remember the following tips about references:

  • Reference Immunity Laws only apply to employers, not to faculty. Therefore, faculty should obtain consent from the applicant to give a reference.
  • Information provided should relate to the specific position for which the person applied.
  • Education record information should only be disclosed with the written consent of the student.
  • Informal, "off the record" conversations with employers about specific students should be avoided, unless you have prior consent from the specific student.
  • Written permission should be obtained from students requesting letters of recommendation.

Consent Form

Please use the following consent form provided by the University of St. Thomas Registrar's Office: Word or Acrobat Reader PDF.

The form has been drafted using a sample letter provided by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (ACCRAO) and complies with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) which requires written permission before releasing non-directory student information to a third party.

Source: NACE (National Association of Colleges & Employers) legal counsel, Rochelle Kaplan, Esq.