Placements and the Law

“Lift-outs” are otherwise known as corporate raids and are hazardous to your legal health, especially for retained practitioners.

The search business isn’t passive anymore. The people you want are employed. Maybe not “happy” (whatever that means) but at least satisfied enough to heat their seat.

There’s only one practical way to find them: Calling them on the job; then interesting them in looking for another one. It’s usually legal, too. Unless you’re paid in advance to a: Call into a specific employer, and b: Raid an entire department or discipline.

That’s what the civil law calls a conspiracy. Even then, the employer needs to connect the calls with some other civil wrong like invasion of privacy, unfair competition, inducing breach of contract, interference with contractual relations, interference with prospective economic advantage, or fraud.

Article Continues Below

If it can connect them, you could be liable for compensatory (actual) damages by loss of the employees. Then unlimited punitive (to punish) and exemplary (to make an example) damages can be awarded at the discretion of the judge or jury.

This is one time when it pays you not to have a retainer. Even so, victim companies can make life miserable, and it’s better not to participate in direct “lift-outs.” Better to just go after the lead dog of the team and let them do the dirty work after they leave and join their new company. Getting compensated for this type of deal requires a wink and a nudge that can backfire against you later.

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


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *