Without An Agreement You Don’t Get Paid

Editor’s note: Jeff Allen has heard every employer excuse you can imagine for not paying up — and dozens more that defy imagination. A few years ago he began documenting them in a weekly collections column. Because of the importance of collections, Fordyce will periodically reprise the most common situations he addressed.

What Client Says:Jeff Allen Collection Tip

The fee schedule wasn’t received.

How Client Pays:

You’ve probably wondered where all those undelivered e-mails and letters with fee schedules went.

They’re safely preserved in the employer lawyer’s office. And they’re cloaked (protected) with the attorney-client privilege. (I used to say, “There are more unsigned fee schedules in the dead-letter office than letters to Santa Claus.” Now it’s the spam file. Either way, it’s DOA!)

The variations on denying receipt of a fee schedule are infinite. There is simply no way to prove receipt of the actual document or electronic transmission without either:

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  • A signature from the client, or
  • A reply that unequivocally, unconditionally, and unambiguously agrees to the terms.

Don’t tell me (or any judge) that “acceptance of referrals” renders the client liable. What client? Can you prove this “client” knew of that term?

If the search is worth doing, it’s worth a documented fee agreement. Agreement, not disputed transmission.

Get it, and you’ll get paid!

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at jeff@placementlaw.com.