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A friend of mine applied at a small company, the CEO being a more or less well known figure in a moderately sized field of experts. The hiring process stalled, and there were errors on both sides, and ultimately no binding contract was reached, and my friend decided for another company. The CEO is now so upset (claiming waste of resources and time) that he/she threatens my friend with making their view of the story semi-public in the field.

I don't want to have a legal answer (most likely this is not legal, but hard to prove).

What I want to know:

  • is this something which is common?
  • how unprofessional would such a sharing of information be perceived?
  • Is it likely that other people take anecdotes told in such a setting seriously (I would not, since i consider people violating the confidentiality of the HR process grossly unprofessional)?
  • how to react? (that may include seeking for legal help, but also other things)
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    I'm happy for him that he didn't end up taking the job and working for this guy. – Winks Jan 13 at 8:39
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    @Winks: thats also what I said..... – Sascha Jan 13 at 10:12
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    @JoeStrazzere: it was somewhat unprofessional - canceling on Friday evening before the company planned that they my friend arrives on Monday, but the company actually failed to send a signed offer until that day - but I prsonally think that threatening people with such actions is never professional. – Sascha Jan 13 at 11:02
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    Sounds like the Michael Cohen strategy--a series of bombastic threats followed by...nothing. – AffableAmbler Jan 13 at 17:32
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    Can we clarify your last comment? Your friend had verbally accepted a job offer, starting on a Monday, and rescinded his acceptance on the Friday before? Also, when the CEO mentioned making "their view" of the story public, is your friend afraid that the CEO is making something up, or that they'd be telling the truth about what your friend did? – dwizum Jan 14 at 17:34
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is this something which is common?

Not common in terms of generally happens, but it is common for some individuals to make threats whenever things don't go their way.

Best to ignore it, the thing about well known figures that do this sort of thing is that everyone already knows what they're like and will probably think you dodged a bullet rather than anything worse. These sorts of people get a rep for giving one-sided arguments and exaggerating. Most of the time however it's just a threat, it's actually detrimental to them and the company to follow through and action it.

I've had multiple threats over my career from CEO's including letters delivered by lawyers, none of them have amounted to anything. I didn't even bother reading the letters. Just thanked the lawyer for visiting, offered them a cup of tea and chucked the letter in the bin in front of them.

how to react?

Ignore any communications, do not reply, do not acknowledge receipt even. You only react when there is something worth reacting to. Don't get into a dialogue or anything else, that just creates wiggle room and makes it look like it's an actual issue that needs to be addressed. Leave the ball in their court to frustrate themselves with bouncing it off a wall.

  • This is the only answer. this question needs – Retired Codger Jan 13 at 6:00
  • I'd just take the letter out of the bin once the lawyer is gone, just in case. They might make some false claims what was in the letter at some point in the future. – gnasher729 Jan 13 at 11:28
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    @gnasher729 to which you reply you didn't read it... I've had a couple, didn't read either, neither know nor care what the contents were. A lawyer delivering you a letter doesn't obligate you to read it. – Kilisi Jan 13 at 11:31
  • I'd reccommend against chucking the letter, in many jurisdictions it is assumed that if you accept a hand-delivered letter you also accept the responsibility. You are however free to hand the unopened envelope back with a "no thanks, not interested" – Borgh Jul 30 at 13:40
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is this something which is common?

No.

how unprofessional would such a sharing of information be perceived?

Fairly unprofessional (from the CEO), unless there was some egregious misconducted, and even then, it's the wrong way to handle it. It will almost certainly make the CEO look bad

Is it likely that other people take anecdotes told in such a setting seriously (I would not, since i consider people violating the confidentiality of the HR process grossly unprofessional)?

People were certainly draw their conclusions, but this will mainly reflect badly on the CEO. Regardless of what happens, going public really makes you look unprofessional and like sore looser. Especially in this case, where there is clearly culpability on the CEO as well.

how to react? (that may include seeking for legal help, but also other things)

Ignore it. This is more risk to the CEO than it is to the candidate. If any, it'll make him/her more interesting to talk to.

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Let the CEO shoot themselves in the foot.

This is an extremely unprofessional threat that the CEO is making, and can have serious legal ramifications to them (depends on jurisdiction and if any personal information is involved). I certainly would not take seriously a CEO who rants like Trump about issues that aren't that big of a deal.

If they do dig their own grave, it'll be up to your friend to decide whether they want to push the CEO in it by releasing their side of the story as a response. Bear in mind that your friend won't really gain anything from this besides possible exposure, the kind of which which won't be career-helpful.

I would certainly recommend talking to a lawyer regarding the legal aspects IF the CEO makes good on their threat.

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