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Lack of reference letter miffs bartender Bill Mitchell has been serving up drinks, good times and plenty of smiles from behind the polished bar of the Delta Whistler Resort's Cinnamon Bear Bar for the past two-and-a-half years. Now Mitchell is off to Vancouver to take some business and marketing courses. When he gave his notice at the Delta, he asked if he could get a reference letter to aid in his job search in the Lower Mainland. Much to his chagrin, 30-year-old Mitchell found the Delta doesn't give out reference letters, no matter how stellar an employee has been. Mitchell promptly organized a meeting with Hank Stackhouse, general manager of the Delta. "I found out very quickly that it is against company policy to give out reference letters for departing employees," says Mitchell who sat on the Delta's staff relations committee. "I have a great record and have gone out of my way to insure that every person who comes into the bar has a top-notch experience. I thought it was kind of low to repay all that dedication with a refusal to write a reference letter." But according to General Manager Stackhouse, the Delta's policy, and that of many other large companies, is not to provide reference letters. He says working at a four-star resort like the Delta is a solid reference in itself. "Not giving out references is a way to be fair to all of the employees that leave this hotel," Stackhouse says. "If we give reference letters out for good employees and don't give them out for bad ones we are determining their future and I don't feel that's a role for a former employer to play." Stackhouse says if a potential employer calls the Delta for a reference the only information given out is what position the employee held and for how long, adding reference letters could be used to get rid of problem employees. "It would be fairly simple to give somebody a great reference and let them be somebody else's problem," he says. That's not good enough for Mitchell. "It should be spelled out very clearly in the first page of the Delta Employee Handbook that no matter how hard you work and no matter how long, you will not get a reference letter from the Delta," Mitchell says. Stackhouse says their reference letter policy is not outlined in the employee handbook, but he will "discuss the issue at our General Manager's meeting in Toronto as it may be an oversight."

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