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I work in the Canada office (Ontario) of a large US tech firm. The firm has had a few lackluster quarters, and appears to be preparing for a few rounds of layoffs.

My company, AwefulCorp Inc. (made up name), apparently created a new company (i.e. separate incorporated company, FakeInterviewers Inc), and is reaching out to people at AwefulCorp Inc. requesting phone/Skype interviews with them to see if they'd be interested in a career opportunity. However, it appears these job offers are not necessarily sincere (I can't be 100% sure), and they are strictly being used to identify disgruntled employees that are "flight risks", so those employees can be targeted for layoffs.

Edit: we can confirm by looking at the business registration and domain name registration for both companies, and we personally saw an HR employee at our office answering a phone and claiming to be an interviewer from FakeInterviewers Inc. We are dead sure of this.

Is this allowed in Canada or the US? We created some fake LinkedIn profiles with silly/obscene-sounding names, claiming to be employees of this company (even got into a couple Skype interviews, surprisingly). They talk about "great benefits", and after a lengthy discussion, low-ball on the salary by a lot.

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    Why would it be illegal? What laws do you imagine are being broken? If true, what they're doing is pretty low, but I doubt there's anything illegal about it. How exactly might they be breaking the law? – joeqwerty Oct 26 at 0:05
  • I really like that you have to tell us that AwefulCorp Inc. is made up. Because these days, you can never know. right?... – Dirk Oct 29 at 12:48
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  1. Companies with competent management typically don't do much laying-off of their workforce.
  2. Companies that don't have competent management typically aren't good at identifying their valuable employees.
  3. If a company is laying people off, and they don't know who the valuable employees are, there's not really any good way of knowing whether you'll be cut or not.
  4. Layoffs don't typically solve any long-term problems. A company doing a layoff... well, they'll typically have more than 1 round.

I'd say your problem goes far beyond "avoid this particular trap" and more into "are you sure you want to risk staying there?"

I mean, do you think you've got long term prospects working there? That the company is good, decent, worthwhile, and fiscally-sound?

If I were in your shoes, I'd ignore the trap, start polishing the resume, and talk with an actual recruiter. Because I can't see a long term future where you're at right now.

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I don't know if the procedure you described is legal. But if for some reason you think that these approaches are fake and only made to identify employees that consider to leave, then you should politely answer that you are not interested. Also you should start looking for a new job, since your current employer doesn't seem to play fair; however, this is based on the assumption that these calls are actually initiated by your employer, so you should be rather sure about that.

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It's a stupid strategy.

There are always employees who are confident they will find a job elsewhere, and others who feel it's better to cling to the job they have. The company apparently tries to get rid of the first group. Reality is that these are most likely the people that you want to keep.

It's also very low as far as company behaviour goes. I'm quite sure it's not illegal. In places where the company needs a good reason to lay you off, an interview with another company is most likely not a good reason to lay you off. It's expected behaviour of any employee and nothing wrong with it. So in those places if you were laid off, an employment lawyer would be very happy to take your case. With "at will" employment, laying you off would be legal. As I said, stupid, but legal.

What should you do? Look for another job. Take it if it pays better. If you are asked for an interview with this fake company, you might play with their heads a bit. When the low-ball offer comes in, your reply should be "You must be joking. I rejected offers for (current salary + $5,000) because I love this company, I'm not leaving for (their low-ball offer)".

  • You might need to reword the second sentence of the second paragraph. "Quite sure it's not illegal" is the same as "Quite sure it's legal". Which doesn't really jive with the rest of the paragraph you have (which is, it may be illegal or it may not be, depending on where you are.) – Kevin Oct 26 at 17:45
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You should look at the "truth in advertising" laws in Canada. They seem to also apply to telemarketers, not just advertisers.

https://www.competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/04255.html

In addition to that, I would consult with a local employment lawyer to make sure you leave no stones unturned. We're not Canadian employment lawyers on this forum. And even if we were, we wouldn't be able to give you good legal advice anyway.

Also, if the law doesn't work for you. Don't underestimate the power of naming and shaming them in public. For that, look for investigative reporters that have broken similar-sounding stories in the past, but that protect the anonymity of their sources.

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