Jeff’s On Call!: Cease and Desist

This post’s inquiry comes from Coy Fite:


What should one say and do if a mad target company’s attorney (a company you’re recruiting from) calls or corresponds that you should “cease and desist”… not call their employees? A company could take legal action, I assume.

We’ve gotten similar calls in years past, and may again in the near future. I want to know how to respond if and when it happens. And how might one defend oneself in this situation?

I appreciate your help. Your advice has been helpful over the years…I still have copies of a couple of your books from 25-30 years ago and have enjoyed your articles in the Fordyce Letter for years.


Coy Fite”

Hi Coy,

…and we appreciate hearing from such a long-standing member of the Fordyce family! So glad you’ve benefited from our help, and now we can help many more.

Irate employers have been trying to stop recruiters from sourcing ever since the first recruiter sourced. Fear and anger are counterproductive responses.

Let’s script a reply. (No, it’s not “You’re either a client or a source!”):

Our business provides a valuable service to our clients, as you undoubtedly know. We don’t get paid to search for those who are unemployed. So let’s get real:

Your premise that we’re stealing your people is based on two fallacies. First, no recruiter can “steal” someone who doesn’t want to be “stolen”. Second, they’re not “your people.” They’re intelligent, career-minded, free agents who will make their minds up after careful reflection about their futures.

Perhaps you should be using your management time in positive ways to reduce employee turnover. This includes motivating and engendering loyalty in your employees. Erecting a very visible fence only makes the grass look greener on the other side.

The morale of employees suffers when they are shackled. That’s why the lowest amount of productivity exists in countries with the least personal freedom. In fact, the strictest employers make the best sources for us to recruit qualified candidates.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce surveys consistently reveal that employees want the following things from their employer (in order of importance):

    1. Job security
    2. Competitive pay and benefits
    3. Appreciation
    4. Inclusion in the decisions affecting their job
    5. Interesting work
    6. Pleasant office surroundings and coworkers
    7. Promotion and development potential within the company
    8. Sympathetic understanding
    9. Loyalty
    10. Fair performance evaluations

We have an anonymous survey we can do for you at no charge, asking whether your employees think your supervisors:

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    1. Ignore their achievements
    2. Criticize them too often
    3. Fail to do their share of the work
    4. Review, give raises, and promote equally
    5. Discipline firmly, fairly and consistently
    6. Set a good example
    7. Assign, delegate and monitor work realistically
    8. Encourage them
    9. Support them
    10. 10.  Reward them

Would you like us to administer the survey professionally for you? Again, at no charge. It would help you identify morale problems so you can address them. We’ll even suspend any recruiting for 90 days so you can work on correcting them.

What’s it worth to you for us to weed out your “deadwood”? Your malcontents?

We’re doing it at no charge, but we should be charging you a hefty outplacement fee!

Would you just prefer that we place a very specific Internet job posting, classified ad, or how about if we rent a local billboard to recruit your people? These public ways of recruiting are perfectly legal and very effective. Or maybe we should just distribute flyers in local parking lots and restaurants.

So there you have it. Use all or whatever parts of this script you like, but use it well!

If another Fordycer would like the legal theories used in employee R-A-I-D! cases, send me an e-mail to, and we’ll hit it in an upcoming JOC.

If you have a legal question you’d like to have Jeff answer here on The Fordyce Letter, check out Jeff’s On Call! and submit your question.

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at


2 Comments on “Jeff’s On Call!: Cease and Desist

  1. Let me get this straight, an angry lawyer gets on the phone to give me a piece of their mind and I am supposed to respond “Let me spend my time, at no cost to you in helping build reduce your turnover rate?”
    I can’t imagine that response would either be effective or useful in the real world.

    I do like the first response though.

    Thank you.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    I generally say something very similar to the first two paragraphs of your crafted response and let it go at that.
    Generally, the rare company that feels the need to have an attorney call and/or send a letter is a company that is being continuously recruited out of. Typically that’s because they have an unhealthy work environment and treat their employees poorly. I don’t want to get involved with a company like that for several reasons.

    First, those companies are easier to recruit out of than to put someone into. Second, I’m not about to try to polish up a bad apple and tarnish a reputation for honesty and square dealing that I’ve built over thirty years. Lastly, if they’re treating their own employees poorly – how are they going to treat me, a recruiter who has been “stealing their people”. It would be sort of like working with Saddam Hussein.

    Tom Keoughan

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