Sometimes, it’s a close call to decide who will be the best fit for a job. Checking applicants’ references can break that tie.
Just make sure you take careful notes during those discussions, and retain those notes in case there’s litigation.
Recent case: After Janet Romero, who is white, applied and was rejected for two internal promotions, she sued for race discrimination. Romero argued that a black supervisor picked two black women for the openings.
The supervisor explained to the court that when a choice between candidates was close, he checked their references. In this case, Romero’s ex-boss explained that he had reservations about her communications skills, a key part of this new job. As the supervisor’s notes showed, the other two candidates’ supervisors rated both of them highly, offering no reservations about.
The court said that even if Romero met the other requirements, she was not the best qualified based on her supervisor’s assessment. That was a legitimate reason for passing her over. (Romero v. State of North Carolina, No. 1:10-CV-166, MD NC, 2012)