What's so upsetting is companies that require references, for example two references within the past 6-12 months, yet have a policy of only confirming the dates the employee worked there.
My wife would just walk around with a stack of blank reference forms (with fields such as hospital worked at, dates, the person's name giving the review, and a comment area). Toward the end of a contract she gets 3-5 people to fill one out for her (this isn't a problem, she's universally liked by all). One contract had this standard policy (prospective employee had to have multiple recent references, but they wouldn't allow references to be given) and were quite surprised that she, in fact, had references. Not just one or two, but a whole stack of them.
We (she) needed an official reference from one hospital for immigration purposes (we're from the US, went to Australia). Basically it had to say she was a competent nurse, was working there for X amount of time, etc. They wouldn't do it (the competent part). Immigration was not happy with the "Yes she worked here" letter, so we had to get another "Our policy is to only give dates of employment to any reference request"; luckily that was sufficient (though I'm guessing the immigration officer was scratching her head over that one).
Once we got the visa approved, she had need of said reference when she was applying for a nursing job in Australia. They absolutely required a letter from her manager stating she was a competent nurse and the dates she worked for them. Well, technically she didn't work for the hospital, she worked for an agency. So she got her recruiter to write her reference letter (on official company letterhead). That made them happy. They called him, apparently he sang her praises because they even commented on the glowing reference he gave her.
Needless to say, if/when we go back to the US and she takes up travel nursing again, we'll give strong preference to that particular recruiter.
Edit: I should probably throw in something FU money related.
As previously mentioned, my wife did travel nursing. Every contract she worked she got an offer to extend. She wanted the holidays off, so would simply not extend through those months, even if begged to. One hospital she worked at was pretty bad and she didn't want to go back (if you're reading this and recognize her...no, we're not talking about you, we're talking about that other hospital). The people were nice, just not the working environment (nowhere near enough staff). She simply didn't accept the extension. No bridges burned, no quitting after a couple months. Had we been desperate for money not only would she have stayed at that extremely stressful hospital, but she would have missed a lot of holidays while the kids were (are) still young.