Placements and the Law

Dear Jeff:

I am a Fordyce subscriber and have been reading your advice for years. I think I have a new situation for you.

I was contacted by a company putting together a database of “passive candidates.” They asked about my specialty, which is the food industry. I said one of my biggest sources of information is the IFT – Institute of Food Technologists. I pay to belong to IFT and go to meetings/ conventions to meet people, and everything I do is aboveboard. This company said they could “get into” the IFT membership directory and extract all the names and put them in my database. All I had to do was give them my member number and password. This didn’t sound very ethical to me. I said why don’t you just call IFT and ask them if you can do it. They said they just go in the “back door” and get the info after hours. The catch? I would get the info into my database for free, but this company would put the same info into their database and make it available to all their subscribers. I challenged them on the legal and ethical issues of this. They argued it, but I haven’t heard from them again.

You are probably thinking, So I haven’t heard from them again – why worry about it? Well, I belong to a network of recruiters and they are now endorsing this company and selling his database. I told them what happened with me. At first they seemed concerned, but they talked to the company and “understand” what he is doing, so they think it is fine. I still think it sounds like the company is stealing databases and directories and then selling them as a passive candidate database. Your thoughts?

Dear Reader:

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There are many legal issues involved here, including the implied consent of the members to have their identity and contact information distributed, their right to privacy, the rights of the IFT to proprietary information, the rights of IFT members to exclusive access to that information, unfair competition, unfair trade practices, computer fraud and abuse, conspiracy with those who participate in unauthorized use, etc.

My sense of this is that the further away you stay, the better.

Jeffrey G. Allen, JD, CPC, turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. For over 32 years, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade-secrets cases, and assisted more search and 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 many best-selling books in the career field. He can be reached at Law Offices of Jeffrey G. Allen, 10401 Venice Blvd., Suite 106, Los Angeles, CA 90034; (310) 559-6000; jeff@placementlaw.com. The Placement Strategy Handbook and other books on search and placement can be purchased at www.searchresearchinstitute.com.

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 jeff@placementlaw.com.

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