Hiring negotiations can be a complex game. And in their zeal to convince someone to leave one job to take another, hiring managers may be tempted to go overboard.
That's why it's vital to remind hiring managers to never promise compensation, benefits or work conditions that your organization can't (or doesn't intend to) honor.
Tell applicants that job offers can only be made in writing and that they should not rely on verbal promises. Then, make sure one source in your organization (likely the HR department) makes those offers. As the following case shows, 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 heavily recruited Len Agosta to lure him away from a competing station. Agosta declined the initial offer. When the station dangled a sweeter deal, he accepted the written offer.
But shortly after Agosta began, it became clear that the station wasn't coughing up the promised compensation. After less than a month on the job, the station fired him, offering to rehire him in a lesser position with lower pay.
Agosta sued, alleging negligent misrepresentation and fraudulent inducement. He won. The court said that even though employees are considered "at-will," that doesn't allow an organization to lure job candidates based on faulty promises. (Agosta v. N. Arthur Astor, et.al., No. D042200, CA4, 2004)