When it comes to checking job applicant references, people who come with great references can turn out to be duds on the job, and people with poor references could very well be great employees. Employers may give bad references on a great person to try to keep the employee onboard, to keep them from taking his/her skills to the competition, retaliatory discrimination, etc. On the same token, employers may give a good reference on a poor employee to avoid potential legal liabilities of giving a bad reference, to get the poor employee off the payroll, to “make up” for firing or laying the person off, etc. Even though you can’t count on references as a predictor of success on the job, failing to check them leaves you wide open to negligent hiring lawsuits. Even if former employers will only confirm “name, rank, and serial number,” you expose yourself to undue risk if you fail to meet due diligence standards.