I have been working with this company for more than 5 years and had never received any complaint from my employer or customers. I had to quit and sue my employer after he didn't want to pay me more than 6months of unpaid salaries. He doesn't want to give any reference even though legally (and morally) I'm right. Having had only 4 colleagues (I was in a very small consulting company) I have no references. How can I manage this situation with my future employers?
Remember having a friend in a similar situation. This was my advice in that moment:
-Make a list of the top 50 clients you had in the consulting firm, choose those which you had a close relationship and can actually talk about you (not fake it)
-Call them and ask them if they believe you did a good job and if they were satisfied with your services. If the answer is yes, then here you have two options
1-Ask them if you can use them as reference. Don't talk about your ex employer. He doesn't matter. This is between you and them. Don't talk bad about him/her, it doesn't help. If they say yes, you are up to a start
2-If you ask and they say no, then you can make a decision. You can put them anyways and they will be called by your interviewer (not necessary they would talk to him or say good things, it's a risk) or you can just name the companies without a persons name or contact info
Hope this helped! Good luck