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We are currently hiring two full time employees with 40 hour work weeks. The positions are Clerical Aid I and Clerical Aid II. The Clerical Aid II posting has more responsibilities than the Clerical Aid I position and after a 2 month review the Aid II is promised a raise. Our new manager had HR post the Clerical Aid II job online (posted on the company site. Job may have also been posted on a third party platform) and we immediately discovered it was posted in error as a part time job with 20-40 hour work weeks. With no delay we contacted the manager to get this fixed. The manager gave a range of excuses why it could not be changed: we don't need to change the posting because we can tell the applicants at the interviews about the errors, maybe we can make the job part time by promising the interviewees they will get an extended break of several weeks to months off from work in the Spring (this is NOT practicable), HR refused to correct the errors.

Aren't job postings considered legal contracts?

Ultimately we filled the Clerical Aid II position and verbally told the applicant about the job posting errors.

Several weeks later the new manager posted the Clerical Aid I position and that posting is even worse. They posted the Clerical Aid II position again and with all the errors that go with it! We immediately informed the manager. The manager said he would "take care of it." It has been three weeks and the job posting is still wrong. We are currently interviewing people and, at the interviews, telling them all the errors in the posting. We have gone repeatedly to the manager for the past three weeks and he keeps saying "I'll take care of it." Yesterday he said he just got done talking to HR and they refused to correct the posting. We suspect this manager is lying and this is not a stretch as he is a notorious liar. Every single employee within the department has caught him at many lies.

What should we do? We work for a county elections office in the United States. I don't want to reveal the state (I don't want this question somehow getting back to my manager) but I am in a "right to work state." All of our communications have been with email so we have paper records of everything.

  • Location is crucial here. – Solar Mike Jan 1 at 15:09
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    I have updated the question. – Audrey Jan 1 at 15:15
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    What should we do? - Continue to inform the interviewees about the errors. A job posting isn't a legal contract. IMO, this isn't really that big of a deal and it certainly isn't a hill I'd be willing to die on. – joeqwerty Jan 1 at 16:15
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    @Audrey: what is you role/function – Sascha Jan 1 at 19:06
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    "Aren't job postings considered legal contracts?" No, they are adverts at best. There may be some legal consequences. If I took time off and travelled for an interview and they you told me the job was totally different than advertised because you couldn't be bothered, I'd want compensation for my cost. – gnasher729 Jan 2 at 13:35
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I doubt there is anything you can do

Aren't job postings considered legal contracts?

No, they are advertisements. Job postings don't even need to have a real job behind them. Plenty of companies post them to see if some star walks in the door. Inaccuracies are almost something to be assumed when applying for a job.

HR refused to correct the errors.

This may be genuine. Government is a weird beast. Because of unions, safety regulations, the number of sign-ods required, or just heavy bureaucracy, it is possible for job postings to become quite calcified. Even in the private sector, many job postings are not updated because they are dull to write.

A friend of mine works for a government agency. The job description specified programming languages they no longer used and methodologies they hadn't used in years. Why is it that way? Because it is was a lot of work to change the job description as all sorts of people had to sign off on it.

I also work for a quasi government agency and would hate to delve into what would be required to edit a job description.

What should we do? We work for a county elections office in the United States.

This really depends on the county, but you are probably out of luck. Inaccurate job descriptions are everywhere and they usually work to the benefit of the employer. Unless you can make a very solid case that it is somehow bad for the county and there is a crusading politician willing to take it on, there is probably nothing you can do.

  • It isn't against the law.
  • It is hard to make a case that it is directly waste and reportable to a waste hotline (if your county has one).
  • You can't go to a higher-up and say "this costs us $10000 needlessly."
  • The promises probably make it easier to recruit for the job, so nobody internally will want to change it.
  • Most people are not terribly detail-oriented, so many would brush off your concerns on you just being pedantic.

You are asking the decision-makers for pain and inconvenience so they don't inconvenience job seekers in several months.

Thank you for trying to do the right thing, but barring some unique factors, there is little you can reasonably hope to achieve. Any overly forceful attempts could also lead to blowback on you.

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  • Thanks for the great advice! I'm relieved that the posting can't be used as a contract but I'm also disappointed we can't do the right thing. I will still keep all these emails for my records as this new manager is very shifty and dishonest and I am fearful that there is more to this story that will come out later. – Audrey Jan 1 at 17:42
  • @Audrey definitely keep records. – Matthew Gaiser Jan 1 at 17:54
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Job ads aren't contracts. There's nothing illegal about misrepresenting a job opening in a help-wanted posting, either on your employer's web site or some job board.

But it is strange behavior. Hiring good people is really hard work, and keeping good people on the payroll isn't easy. If your org has a full-time job to offer it's wise to mention that fact in the ad. Why? Many qualified people will pass over your ad because they hope for a full time job, and you'll miss good candidates. If somebody who needs a part time job takes your job and finds out it's actually a full time job, they are more likely to quit. And, you're back to hiring again.

That being said, you have done your duty by bringing this to your manager's attention. It's not on you to "fix" your manager.

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