When hiring managers find a really desirable candidate, they often feel pressured to “sell” the job to make sure the offer’s accepted. But here’s one who went too far — and got his company dragged into court.
A woman was hired for a part-time job with the company. During the interview, the hiring manager told her she’d be given the same benefits as a full-time employee. Also, when she was offered the job, she was given a document summarizing the benefits offered to full-time employees.
But on her first day of work, she learned that part-timers weren’t eligible for full benefits. When she complained to Human Resources, she was given a list of what she would receive. The HR manager told her the manager’s comments and the written document were “honest mistakes.”
She didn’t think so, and she sued the company.
The court ruled in her favor. The judge said the company made a promise to her — in person and in writing — which convinced the woman to switch jobs, then backed down on the promise to her detriment (Cite: Timpe v. WATG Holdings, Inc.).
Avoid ‘truth-in-hiring’ lawsuits
In addition to giving the wrong info about pay and benefits, mistakes hiring managers make when trying to sell positions include:
- exaggerating how quickly someone will get promoted
- lying about financial difficulties or impending layoffs in the candidate’s department, and
- inflating a job’s potential for bonuses and commissions.
Those mistakes can often lead to lawsuits, as in the case above. Other times, they create a serious retention problem once new hires realize they aren’t getting what they expected.
Here are some steps Human Resources pros can take to help their companies avoid those problems:
- Put a disclaimer or at-will language in your offer letters. Don’t write anything too harsh, or it will make the candidate uneasy — just something that makes it clear the person is being hired for an at-will position and the terms of the offer are subject to change.
- Save talk about benefits and compensation for the written offer letter.
- Remind managers that if the truth can’t convince a candidate to accept an offer, that person probably isn’t a good fit.