Company burned in court for misleading job candidate

Competition is tight for highly skilled workers. And it’s understandable that as an employer, when you need to fill a position quickly you’re going to try and sell the position in the best light possible. But it’s a really bad idea to withhold important information from a job candidate, especially if the opportunity in question is less than secure.

Take for example a recent case out of Massachusetts. The employer, Boston-based Loomis, Sayles & Co., was planning to launch a new hedge fund. To staff the launch, Loomis set its sights on Vishal Bhammer, who was working in finance in Hong Kong. During the recruitment process, Loomis made numerous promises to Bhammer about its commitment to the launch and the resources it planned to dedicate to the fund.

Ultimately Bhammer accepted an offer. And relying on Loomis’s assurances that it was safe to do so, he gave notice to his employer and moved to Singapore as the position required.

But two weeks later, Loomis told Bhammer it had abandoned the launch and there was no job for him.

Bhammer sued the company, claiming misrepresentation, and a federal judge in Massachusetts gave the lawsuit the go-ahead.

In denying Loomis’s motion to dismiss, the judge said there was sufficient evidence that the company knew it wasn’t telling the truth at the time it made all its promises. As a result, said the judge, the case could proceed to trial.

The lesson here is that optimism is acceptable when recruiting employees. But deliberately withholding key facts when a job candidate depends on your honesty is a recipe for disaster.