Most companies do not give out reference checks other than offering some sort of basic employment verification. “Yes, Joe Smith worked here from Jan 2007 to March 2010.” The reason for this is that they want to avoid the possibility of defamation and slander lawsuits. So the easiest approach, and the one that is in the best interest of the past employer, is to have a blanket ‘no reference checks’ policy…good or bad. Some companies are even taking this a step further by utilizing automated employment-history checks. This is an automated phone line that only gives dates of employment and title.
Another question that is often asked is, “Can a company call one of my past employers without my consent?” The answer is yes, but they probably won’t get any information. Again, the past employer does not want to put itself at risk. So before providing any basic information, a past employer will ask for a signed consent form from the company.