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My university has asked every student with an offer to post his/her offer letter in a google drive link.

Almost every company who hire here are US based. Specific US city wise: San Jose, Seattle, San Francisco. Mainly US west cost : Californian companies dominating followed by 3-4 Wall street banks like Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley etc.

Coming to the college itself, it's like an Indian government institution, they will not listen to "rules". They will threaten students on withholding their bachelor's degrees if they don't agree to uploading their offer.

Almost every offer letter in the shared folder has NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). Now I have read a few resources on whether an offer letter is confidential or not and I am still on the fence about it's confidentiality. But there are some offers which clearly mention that the letter itself is confidential too.

My questions are: - Is this legal under the terms of offer letter?

  • What are the consequences of uploading the letter here?

  • What happens if the companies find out about this?

Edit:

  • University is in India. In Indian colleges, ok the last year of bachelors degree a "placements season" is conducted where companies come and recruit students. This "placements" is done by a "placements department" and that's the department which has asked students to upload their letters.

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, gnat, scaaahu, Sascha, gazzz0x2z Dec 28 '18 at 13:56

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave these specific reasons:

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    I'm curious to know what the purpose of this is from the university's point-of-view. Attracting new students, reputation versus other similar universities, meeting government set metrics on employment-after-degree, or ??? – davidbak Dec 27 '18 at 18:32
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    What prevents you from telling that no one offered you any job? – Salvador Dali Dec 28 '18 at 2:12
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    Just to clarify, where is your university? In India? In the U.S.? Somewhere else? – reirab Dec 28 '18 at 7:14
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    Having studied in India, I know that the threat of "withholding the degree" is an empty threat that will never be executed. From what you've written, I see that they have not yet threatened you. It's an assumption you are making. I would typically ask more details from the person who made the request and then speak with the (sensible) higher authorities in the college if necessary, to help them prevent the college reputation from getting dragged through the mud. – Nav Dec 28 '18 at 11:05
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Is this legal under the terms of offer letter?

Typically not. Most US companies will require you to sign an NDA as part of the interview process and the offer letter is typically covered by this NDA. This is not a crime, but it's clearly a violation of contract. Read the paperwork that you have signed carefully and if you can't figure it out, have it reviewed by a lawyer.

What are the consequences of uploading the letter here?

Depending on what exact paperwork you have signed, it's a violation of a contract or NDA.

What happens if the companies find out about this?

Depends on circumstances and the company, but most US companies will NOT take this lightly. A violation of an NDA is a severe infraction and always a good reason for "termination with cause". Offer letters are considered confidential, and most companies are very protective of salary and offer data. Most likely outcome is, that they will rescind the offer, put you on a do not hire list and may share the infraction of other tech companies which would make it hard for you to get a job in the future. It is less likely that would go after you for damages, although they technically could.

The question you didn't ask

"What should I do?"

This is a bizarre request. The college is asking you do something that is likely in violation of a contract that you have signed and that may have serious negative consequences for their students. It may very well get the college blacklisted by US employers.

Step #1 would be to try to talk to someone and make them understand that this is potentially very harmful to the students and the college as well. If they stick to their request and threaten to withhold your degree, you need to get a lawyer involved. This is serious.

DO NOT post your offer letter, unless you have explicit permission in writing from your employer to do so (which you are unlikely to get). You can also ask your recruiter for help and advice. Maybe a letter from your employer stating that posting of the offer letter violates your agreement and would result in you losing the offer, would help communicating with the college

  • Thank you for answering. As commented before, I will be taking up this matter with my company's HR. I'll also advice my friends to do the same with their companies. – user97210 Dec 27 '18 at 17:06
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    Get it in writing from your prospective employer, signed by someone in HR or Legal willing to do this and upload that, if your college hassles you point them to the signee. – Borgh Dec 27 '18 at 19:17
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    There's some nuance here around "most companies are very protective of salary and offer data." The letter itself may be a confidential company document covered by NDA. However, workers in the US (and it's not entirely clear to me, or perhaps anyone, that this inherently includes workers who haven't yet started their employment) have broad rights to discuss their salary and working conditions under the National Labor Relations Act. It may (talk to an employment lawyer) suit everyone's needs to share the key information, not the letter. – Zach Lipton Dec 27 '18 at 21:54
  • @ZachLipton For what it's worth here's the definition of employee used for the relevant law. IANAL and I'm not sure what case law is on this. My personal reading of this would be that prospective employees - who are not yet employees - would not be covered by this law, but I could definitely be wrong. – reirab Dec 28 '18 at 7:37
  • I am not a lawyer either, but as far as I know the right to discuss salary (and working conditions) only extends to discussions with other employees, union reps, etc. You do not have a blanket right to disclose your salary publicly or to – stannius Dec 29 '18 at 15:39
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Whenever you ask a question about whether or not an action is legal, ask an attorney. No opinion here (unless it happens to come from an attorney) has any legal weight. As my retired-attorney father used to say, people can sue for anything, at any time, for any reason. Violating NDA (which in this case means you're revealing competitive information about hiring procedures) is a big deal and can seriously cost you — not the university.

One solution is provided by 520: ask your employer for a version of the letter to give to the university, or for their permission to upload the letter you received.

Another solution is to inform the university that you are under NDA and cannot upload the letter without violating it.

If the university is so childish that it would withhold your degree simply because you're unwilling to violate a legal agreement with your new employer, then perhaps you should consider suing. Granted, I don't know a thing about Indian law — but my knee-jerk reaction is the argument of loss-of-income-due-to-hiring-interference would cost them a boatload of cash. Here in the U.S., you'd have lawyers lining up to take the case.

  • Okay, understood. Thank you for the answer. About asking the company, should I just directly state the matter and or any particular formal way of going around it? For now, my company's HR is the source of contact, I haven't yet started work, my onboarding is due in January. – user97210 Dec 27 '18 at 16:59
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    As common as this sounds in India, I wouldn't be surprised if the company hasn't run into the problem before. I would not expect formality to be an issue. Call the HR department, explain that your university is asking for the offer letter to be uploaded, and ask if they have a procedure for that process. If they don't, ask them if they could provide a simple confirmation-of-employment letter (very much akin to what @520 has suggested). They'll be nice about all this. Yours isn't the first university to do silly things. – JBH Dec 27 '18 at 17:03
  • Okay, will contact HR and take necessary steps. Thank you. – user97210 Dec 27 '18 at 17:04
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    Even if advice here comes from a lawyer, it doesn't come from your lawyer. law.stackexchange.com is good for general principles, but if you need legal advice you need to find a lawyer. In the US, your local Bar Association is likely to set up low-price consultations. – David Thornley Dec 27 '18 at 17:30
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    If the university is so childish as to withhold degrees for this, and the US hiring companies learn that fact, the OP's question quickly become irrelevant, since there will be no offer letters to post. It takes years to build a good reputation, but only seconds to lose it for ever. – alephzero Dec 27 '18 at 22:34
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Vincent. This may not be a direct answer to your questions, but I think it may be helpful. You could send an anonymous email to whatever is the closest to their internal ethics department, or perhaps to their legal department. Attach the instructions which were sent to everyone. Explain your concerns. Tell them that if the instructions are in accord with their university policies, then they need take no action at this time, but that you thought they should be aware of the requirement.

I think you would find that they would quickly cease the requirement.

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    ethics departments are powerless in IITs (which it's clear that this institution is) – Karan Harsh Wardhan Dec 28 '18 at 8:37
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By and large, job offers are confidential so disclosing the offer letter and salary is forbidden. When two large organizations ask you to do contradicting things, first obey the law, then obey any legal contract (which is what applies here: your NDA with the company is the controlling factor), then follow your self-interest: your employer pays you, and university is in the past.


Most likely, the university wants proof of an offer letter to provide evidence of a marketing claim the university wants to make: that they place X percent of their students in good jobs. Some colleges have gotten in big trouble for that in the past, and at least in the USA many colleges are "student loan mills", and courts have canceled student loans from colleges who lied about placement.

So it is likely management, on advice of the Legal Dept., has told staff in no uncertain terms to capture that data from every single student no exceptions, and with the fervor and absolutism that comes with edicts from Legal. Staff uses Google Drive to ease their workload and prove that the student originated it (it's not faked).

Tempting though it may be to fake one, I do not advise that. Then, the university would have plausible grounds to accuse you of misconduct.


I would attempt to find out what data the university really needs and why they need it.

For instance, once you are employed, the mere fact that you are employed is publishable. The employer would cheerfully give a letter to that effect.

Salary, again, is not going to happen, as that would needlessly put them at disadvantage when negotiating salary with other candidates. It's a different deal if Government hires you, as salaries are typically public information.

  • The vast majority of non-government U.S. employers are legally prohibited from taking any action against you for sharing wage or salary information. Granted, this protection may only extend to current employees. I'm not sure whether prospective employees would be covered under the definition of 'employee' used in the law (29 USC 157). – reirab Dec 28 '18 at 7:47
  • @reirab did you send the right link? That's for forming a labor union. – Harper Dec 28 '18 at 10:26
  • Yes, it's the right link. Presumably, it's the "engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection" that covers sharing salary information. See this explanation that Zach Lipton linked in another comment for more detail. So, in this case, that particular part of the NDA is unenforceable, as it contradicts U.S. federal law. It's a common company policy, but also one that can't be enforced. – reirab Dec 28 '18 at 18:54
  • You can also read about it on NPR, GovDocs (a labor law compliance firm), the Society for Human Resource Management, and the NLRB (the federal agency tasked with enforcing this law.) – reirab Dec 28 '18 at 19:05
  • @reirab: that's not how it works. Yes, there are laws but the intent of a law and what happens in the real world are two entirely different things. Starting your new job with a legal conflict, is the end of your career there and most likely in the entire industry as well. The law may help you to squeeze out a bit of severance or get you dummy seat at a desk for a while, but why would you do this? – Hilmar Dec 29 '18 at 13:24
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You could ask your prospective employer for a letter that you can share with the university, or if you're really out of options, you can make one up. Given that these letters are under NDA anyway, it's highly unlikely they will be publicising them. All a fake letter would have to contain is your name, the name of the employer and the name of the person who sent you the message, and some general fluff about being accepted. None of that will be NDA material. Don't put in any information about start times, or office locations. If they won't listen to laws, feel free to bypass theirs when their rules contravene laws.

  • Would blurring out certain parts of the letter be fine legal wise? Or should I just create a new document with relevant details? – user97210 Dec 27 '18 at 16:45
  • From a legal perspective, blurring out the relevant parts could work but you'd need to know what all the relevant parts are. It sounds like your institution MAY have a hissy fit if they don't think they have the unredacted document though (ask them about this). If they want unredacted, make a new document and make it look like the original style-wise. – 520 Dec 27 '18 at 16:48
  • Got it. It's better to make a separate document. Since the deadline is a week away, I'd rather wait a bit more. – user97210 Dec 27 '18 at 16:50
  • If you were going to do that, I would start with Pentagon letterhead, and then redact every single word. I would've said CIA letterhead, but realistically the CIA wouldn't even do that. – Harper Dec 27 '18 at 19:33