There Is No Such Thing As A Bona Fide Job Order

Editor’s note: Jeff Allen has heard every employer excuse you can imagine for not paying up — and dozens more that defy imagination. A few years ago he began documenting them in a weekly collections column. Because of the importance of collections, Fordyce will periodically reprise the most common situations he addressed. The complete collection is here.

What Client Says:

It wasn’t a “bona fide job order.”

How Client Pays:

There’s no such thing as a “bona fide job order.” It just sounds legitimate – in fact, “bona fide!” Back when employment agencies were regulated, it meant something. Here’s an example from the former California Professional and Vocational Regulations PVR 2859):

A bona fide job order may be considered to have been given [if] the employer or his agent, in person, by telephone, telegram or in writing, registered a request that the agency recruit, or gives permission to the agency to refer applicants for employment who meet stated job specifications.

The accents change from state to state, but the words mean the same thing: Nothing.

All a client needs is to deny that it gave you a JO. The 45 minutes you spent discussing the job doesn’t count. Clearing the fee with everyone in the hiring process doesn’t either. In regulated states, you can lose your license too. It won’t cost the client a nickel (unless it pays bona fide taxes).

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If you need a license to place, be sure to get the employer’s signature, a return acknowledgement, or whatever your state requires.

But if you’re in an unregulated jurisdiction (and you probably are), go for a bona fide fee!

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


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