41

I had an offer from employer A and employer B forced me to show the offer letter of A to them.

In that situation I shared the offer letter with him. But he used that offer letter against me and contacted employer A and informed them that I shared a confidential letter with them. He did so because I did not accept his offered package which was less than employer A. He took it personally.

I ended up nothing in hand. What should I do? Can I file a complaint against him or his organization?


From comments:

Q: Sorry, but how did they actually force you? Like Physically snatching the contract if you were carrying with you?
A: He said I cannot give counter offer unless he has proof in hand and he need to share that with upper management to increase your offered package...[I forwarded the letter without thinking that what could be happened if anything went wrong
Q: Was the offer letter confidential at all?
A: it was not mentioned "Do not share or Confidential " neither in the email nor in the offer letter.

10 Answers 10

70

What should I do?

Learn a lesson, hope company A does not initiate legal action against you, and move on.

Can I file complaint against him or his organization?

Forget you ever thought of this; you are the one at fault here.

To elaborate, unless company B used physical means to snatch that letter out of you (which constitutes a criminal case against them), they had no way of obtaining the latter without you providing them that.

You most likely violated all the confidentially clauses with company A, irrespective of the fact how persuasive company B was [1]. You should have never shared that letter with them. Either they believe you, or they don't. End of story.

Moreover, actually company B did company A a favor (willingly or unintentionally) by saving them the trouble of hiring an employee who does not understand and honor any confidentially clause. If you have shared the offer letter today, who knows what other information you would be leaking tomorrow after you're hired and have the insider knowledge?

Wipe this incident from your memory, save the learning and move on. Never repeat anything like this, ever.


[1] You won't certainly provide them your ATM PIN / net banking password, even if they say they can't offer you a job without that - right? Confidential information is confidential - irrespective of the context.

  • 57
    "You most likely violated all the confidentially clause with company A" OP added in the comments that the offer letter was in fact NOT confidential – FooTheBar Nov 21 at 11:06
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    @FooTheBar Then it changes the whole question, is not it? If it was not confidential (highly unlikely), then why's org B use that against OP to show to A, any why would org A be bothered about that? – Sourav Ghosh Nov 21 at 11:09
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    OP forwarded the letter to Company B in order to advance his own interest. He tried to use the letter to convince Company B to beat Company A's offer. Even with no confidentiality clause, Company A may not have liked being used by OP as a foil with which to negotiate with Company B. – tbrookside Nov 21 at 18:14
  • 10
    The letter was most likely not confidential in any legal capacity, but something like it has a culturally implied soft confidentiality which makes it bad form to disclose, especially in the context OP shared it in. – Turksarama Nov 22 at 2:17
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    Where I come from, it is the norm to share offer letters from other companies with your current employer in order to have more leverage. It's basically saying "Hey, let's either talk about amending our contract or I'll leave". I have never viewed offer letters as confidential. – NotTelling Nov 22 at 15:59
24

I am unclear how he 'forced' you to show him the offer letter. If he said he wouldn't make you an offer without you disclosing the confidential letter from company B. It is your fault you gave in to that, you weren't forced.

What you should do is learn to walk away. The boss of company B sounds like a jerk, you don't want to work for a jerk. You certainly don't want to give them leverage over you. When he demanded to see the offer you should have rung Company A and accepted their offer and broke off contact with B.

If this company is large enough to be on Glassdoor or similar you could post your experience as warning a warning to others but I very much doubt there is much else you can do.

  • 2
    Since I forwarded letter without thinking anything that what could be happened if anything went wrong? My mistake, agreed. I hope others will learn from my mistake. – Tinks_say Nov 21 at 9:58
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    It's always positive to own your mistake. However I think you should edit your post as you weren't forced to hand over the letter. You weren't even manipulated into it, you were simply naïve that people would be such jerks. – Dustybin80 Nov 21 at 11:39
11

There is nothing you can do. You've already screwed up.

This is what you should have told them instead.

"I'm sorry, but I can not in good conscience forward a private communication sent to me from another potential employer."

Please note the purposefully vague language I'm using here. It's important to not even disclose the name of company A (unless you already did). If they ask, just tell them what the company does in the most general terms, so that they know the kind of company that they're up against, but you certainly don't need to be specific.

[...]

And yes, it's company B's prerogative to decide whether you should become their employee or not, so they could very well deny you the job on the grounds that you didn't forward that offer letter to them (which is well within their rights). But at some point, you have to respect yourself enough and be willing to walk away from a potential employer that is making a seemingly unreasonable request.

[...]

And what happens if company B doesn't believe that you have an actual offer on the table from another company since you're unwilling to show an offer letter? That's fine also. If they don't believe you, that's on them. And it's not your obligation to justify, or explain yourself further, and it's your prerogative to be able to walk away from any potential employer, especially any potential employer that makes seemingly unreasonable and unusual requests.

Taken from my previous answer: Can one company ask offer letter of another company

Now the only thing you can do is to continue looking for a new job with other employers.

I ended up nothing in hand :( What should I do? Can I file complaint against him or his organization?

No, a complaint won't get you anywhere (unless India has a law like the European GDPR as John Bentley suggested).

One thing you could do is post a complaint about company B on glassdoor.com (or the equivalent web site in your country), but personally, I definitely wouldn't post a complaint on glassdoor about company A. You were in the wrong with company A. You broke the implied confidentiality of their offer letter.

That being said, this does not constitute legal advice. I am not a lawyer. And most of us on this stackexchange are certainly not familiar with the law in India. So take our uninformed opinion for what it's worth. And don't be afraid to consult an employment lawyer in your jurisdiction if you can afford it, or if their initial consultation is free.

  • 6
    I have no idea about India, but I suspect had this been in Europe then OP would have had a cause of action for B's breach of the GDPR. The fact that OP applied for a job at B, and the details of what documents he supplied to B, is not B's data to share with third parties as it likes. – Jon Bentley Nov 21 at 21:00
  • @JonBentley, Thanks for the insight. I've just amended my answer a little bit because of it. – Stephan Branczyk Nov 21 at 21:47
  • This seems inaccurate: "And yes, it's company B's prerogative to decide whether you should become their employee or not, so they could very well deny you the job on the grounds that you didn't forward that offer letter to them (which is well within their rights)." Knowingly pressuring/encouraging one party to break a contractual obligation to another party is tortious interference and is not "within their rights". – R.. Nov 21 at 23:11
  • @R.., I'm not a lawyer and I'm not even from India. If you're a lawyer in India (or even one in the US), I'll be happy to defer to you. But in my layman opinion, the letter is not really legally confidential unless the job-hunter signs an NDA first (which wasn't mentioned in this case). I also don't think that writing confidential on a document, or writing confidential at the bottom of an email footer, really makes it legally confidential either. At least again, that's my lay opinion. And when I say that he should refuse to do such a thing. It's for ethical concerns, not for legal ones. – Stephan Branczyk Nov 21 at 23:44
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    @R.., Company A seems to think there was an ethical obligation, yes, but a legal obligation, I don't know. – Stephan Branczyk Nov 22 at 0:23
10

I just want to chime in since every existing answer thinks you did something wrong. It's possible that in your location/field it's considered unacceptable to share information about offers, but that's certainly not always the case.

At least in the United States and with software engineers, telling a company you have an offer from another is completely 100% normal and a good negotiating strategy. From company B's perspective, they should be happy that you shared company A's offer since it gives them a choice whether they want to give you a better offer. The alternative is that they don't even know that they're competing and lose out on any opportunity to hire you. From company A's perspective they might prefer that you not talk to anyone else, but that's an unreasonable expectation since most people interview with multiple companies in parallel (unless they want their job search to take forever).

The only weird part is directly sharing company A's offer letter with company B, but even then, it's just weird in a "too personal" sort of way. Although in this case company B seemed to specifically ask, so the weirdness is on them.

If you want to see an example of how not bad this is in some places, here's a long story by a software engineer using offers to get companies to bid against each other and then publicly posting exactly what most of the offers were (including the one from his current employer who almost certainly knows about his blog).

Long story short:

  1. Unless the offer letter specifically said it contains confidential information, sharing it was a social faux pas at worst.
  2. If company A's offer was confidential then they're doing something sketchy by trying to prevent you from sharing offers and you dodged a bullet by not working for them.
  3. If the offer was confidential, then company B probably did the right thing (don't share confidential info with a potential employer), although they shouldn't have asked to see the offer in the first place.
  4. If the offer wasn't confidential, the company B is insane and you dodged a bullet there too.
  • Saying you have an offer is one thing. Showing the offer (especially without redacting any company information) is very likely a violation of contract, which you probably signed during the application process. – Mars Nov 22 at 1:20
  • I just looked and the offer letter for my previous job doesn't say anything about confidentiality and neither does the email it came in. I'm also fairly certain I didn't sign any contracts before starting that job. That company was very strict about confidential information so the letter would have said it was confidential if it was. There are certainly cases where an offer letter could contain confidential information, but then the problem is sharing that information, not the fact that OP showed someone their offer letter instead of just describing it. – Reinstate Monica Nov 22 at 15:35
  • @Mars That sounds like an odd application process. Maybe it is different in India, but I've never heard of that being part of an application. You should not state that such a contract was "probably signed" without something to back it; is that common procedure in India? – Aaron Dec 4 at 17:32
  • @Aaron True, I don't have experience in India. Speaking from my non-Indian experience, there is usually a clause on the application form and some box that you either had to check or sign in order to apply. Maybe there was no official application, but I would be pretty surprised if there wasn't something. – Mars Dec 5 at 0:18
10

This is India.

TL;DR

Incidents like this used to happen in the past, happening at present and WILL continue to happen in future. You cannot expect any sense of ethics from the most companies and their HR representatives.

Do not hesitate to help them realize the taste of their own medicine. Write your reviews in Glassdoor, Indeed, MouthShut, LinkedIn, friends or whatsoever. That's all you can do, not with an intention to sabotage their reputation but with a noble intention to save fellow interviewing candidates like you.

To all foreign nationals, in india, it is a common practice for recruiting HR to ask the candidates for any other job offers to make a counter offer on. Therefore, you cannot blame just the OP.

6

Remember this next time someone tries to push you around.

Some people will exploit you. Some people will lie to you. Some people will take advantage of you. This is an almost inevitable certainty. You'll never be able to prevent it completely, but you can learn from past mistakes to help avoid future ones.

The next time someone tries to pressure you to do something that you know is wrong, you should think back on what this manager did to you. Saying "No" can feel really difficult sometimes. It gets much easier to make that hard choice, when you know the consequences of going along.

  • Are you sure this answer applies? OP doesn't seem to have done anything wrong, and even if they did this answer requires that they know first. The question states that this outcome was a surprise. – Aaron Dec 4 at 17:37
  • @Aaron Yes. Respectfully, I believe it does. As you said, "The question states that this outcome was a surprise." This is at the heart of my answer. As I said, "Some people will exploit you. Some people will lie to you. Some people will take advantage of you. This is an almost inevitable certainty." You shouldn't be surprised. You should modify your behavior to take this inevitability into account. As the old saying goes, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." – Lumberjack Dec 5 at 13:03
5

I had offer from employer A and employer B forced me to show offer letter of A

Actually, nobody can force you to do anything. I agree that company B played dirty into tricking you to provide that information, but it was you who "agreed". They were even dirtier when the contacted company A with the info from you.

While company A has the right to make legal claims against you, that is less likely. It is too much trouble and too little benefit.


Remember

You never disclose confidential information during an interview. Not your personal confidential information (e.g. PIN code of your banking card), not professional confidential information (previous salaries, previous contracts...).

The interview is a "point zero" with regard to prior confidential information and it is unfavurable to you to disclose this.

Confidential information is also the not-so-good experiences that you had at previous jobs. You never admit to problems. Even when you talk about something unpleasant (even though you should avoid it completely), make it sound positive.

We had some troubles, but we succeeded to learn our lessons, and on subsequent occasions, we sailed pleasantly.

  • This answer makes assumptions about confidentiality which are nowhere in the question. Please elaborate on why you would think there was any confidential information. – Aaron Dec 4 at 17:35
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FYI, if a company is forcing you to do something you know is improper, specially doing the interview, you do not want to work for them.

Second, never tell the name of the company you have an interview/offer with. If your market is small, interviewer might figure the other company out quickly. Or, might even be friends with someone with decision power in the other company to screw you up.

So, take this as a lesson and move on.

NOTE: I edited this response to agree that not mentioning you have other options weakens your position. But I still would not name names.

  • 1
    Mentioning another offer is a very strong bargaining tool. "Your company is the company that I want to choose, but other companies are offering me more. I won't ask you to offer more than them, but if you will agree to $X, then I would like to choose your company" – Mars Nov 22 at 1:17
  • Mentioning interviews can go both ways. It can get a company to speed up their process (good thing), but it can show disinterest (bad thing) – Mars Nov 22 at 1:18
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    Clearly you didn't win in debate club. Opposing Job offers are golden when negotiations in pay. – FreeSoftwareServers Nov 22 at 7:48
  • There is a difference between carefully hinting of other companies and naming them. – raubvogel Nov 26 at 17:18
  • @Aaron, read the question again. OP never said he did anything improper. He specifically said that employer (from company) B forced him to show the offer letter of A to them. – raubvogel Dec 5 at 18:13
4

There are good answers, but I’m going to address more simply your “what can I do?”

You can choose to not work for either of them, and/or you can make sure other people know what kind of people they are.

  • 1
    Yes, I will definitely write review of that company after all this – Tinks_say Nov 22 at 6:14
3

I am not a lawyer. That said, many of the existing answers and comments sounded decidedly... American... to me - something you’re often at risk of on the SE network. In my country (NZ) sharing the letter you had provided for the purpose of offering you a job with another company for a different purpose would be a breach of your privacy, and you could (at least try to) take them to court. In India it looks like there might be a similar law though I’m not clear as to whether that law is currently in place - it looks like it was being put through this year? So, It may be worth talking to a lawyer.

I’m not going to get into whether you did something wrong in sharing the letter - I don’t even know how to google that but if you’re already talking to a lawyer I’m sure they will be able to advise you on that.

  • 1
    I strongly doubt that making a true statement about your actions can be considered defamation in New Zealand. You might have a case for retaliation, though. – reirab Nov 22 at 10:40
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    @reirab my answer wasn’t really about defamation, it was about improperly sharing personal information. I’ll remove the defamation bit as it is a distraction – Jeff Nov 22 at 10:42
  • I got just the opposite vibe from the other answers, they seem very non-American. In fact, I was very surprised at how many people assumed OP had done something wrong. In the US, OP's situation would seem extremely odd, as sharing offer letters from other companies is normal as far as I know. – Aaron Dec 4 at 17:42
  • @Jeff, legal action only works if there is proof. Showing something in an interview never happened unless there is record of that. – raubvogel Dec 5 at 18:22
  • @raubvogel I think the record of showing it is that they then showed it to someone else. I guess it all depends on if they sent any of their threats or whatever in writing, or if the offer letter was sent via email. Or if the other company was willing to provide an affidavit or something. – Jeff Dec 5 at 18:26

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