Issue: In their zeal to lure top-shelf applicants, hiring managers may embellish on the pay, perks and promotion opportunities.
Risk: Failing to follow through on promises, especially those made in writing, can prompt fraud lawsuits.
Action: Use this case to persuade managers to run all job-offer letters through you.
Hiring negotiations can be a complex game. But if your organization doesn't play that game fairly, it could get thrown for a very big legal loss.
The lesson: Remind your hiring managers never to promise compensation, benefits or work conditions that your organization can't (or doesn't intend to) honor.
Tell your managers to make job offers only in writing and that oral promises made to job candidates can come back to haunt them ... and the organization. Insist that they show you a draft of job-offer letters.
Even your "at-will" employment statement won't save you from a manager who can't keep his or her compensation promises.
Recent case: A radio station recruited Len Agosta heavily to lure him away from a competitor. After Agosta declined the initial offer, the station dangled a sweeter deal, and he accepted the written offer.
But shortly after Agosta began, he says, he wasn't earning the compensation he was promised. Agosta sued, alleging negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent inducement. He won. The court said that, even though Agosta was employed "at will," it didn't allow the radio station to lure him with false promises. (Agosta v. N. Arthur Astor, et.al., No. D042200, CA4, 2004)
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