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Retaliation For Refusing Previous Job Offer?

Retaliation For Refusing Previous Job Offer?

Alison Green | Ask A Manager

A reader writes:

I recently applied for a position in a company. A few months ago, I had interviewed for a different position in another division within the same company and received an offer. I reflected on where I wanted to go with my career and what I am presently working on and decided that this was not an opportunity that would help me move forward career-wise. I explained that to the recruiter and the hiring manager at the time, when turning down that offer.

Back to my applying for a different position with them now. When the hiring manager for the new position discussed my application with the hiring manager for the previous position and the HR person handling that previous position, apparently they raised a large number of objections and ultimately convinced the new hiring manager to not extend an offer. I also know that the new hiring manager was extremely interested in hiring me because I was an employee referral and was very impressed when we met for a brief two hour chat.

Is this kind of retaliation legal? What connection does a previous job offer have to do with another position in another division even though they are within the same company?

Yes, it’s legal. Their reasons could be petty (taking it personally that you turned down an earlier offer) or rooted in something legitimate: for instance, maybe they felt that you hadn’t been straight with them about your interest level for the other job earlier in the process, and that you’d wasted their time when you’d never had serious intentions of taking that job if offered. If they feel that way, they could be right, or they could be misinterpreting in an uncharitable way, or they could be flat-out wrong.

(By the way, one way to try to head that off when turning down an offer is to explicitly assure them that your interest in the position had been strong and genuine all the way through.)

But the real question here is whether there’s anything that you can do about it now. It may be too late, but if they haven’t yet firmly closed the door, it might be worth reaching out to the hiring manager for the second position and say that you’re worried that the two others are reacting to the fact that you turned down their earlier offer, that your reasons for doing so were ____, and that that doesn’t apply to this new position because _____.

Good luck!

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