can I threaten legal action to get a better job offer?

A reader writes:

TLDR: I was given a lowball job offer. I said it was less than my previous total comp, which it was. I was asked my previous salary and, stupidly, gave it. Asking salary history is illegal in the nearest city and that may or may not cover me. Can I use the threat of legal action to negotiate a better offer?

I was laid off. I applied for a job at a nearby company a friend works at. The interview process was really fast, less than a week from initial submission to final interview. I thought I killed it. My friend on the inside agreed. But after the final interview it took three whole weeks to get an offer. Apparently the CFO had to sign off on everything personally and had a big backlog.

The initial offer was less than I had been making at my previous job and I made the mistake of saying it like that. The in-house recruiter asked what I was making and I am bad at thinking on my feet, so I told her. This job is in a suburb of Philadelphia, and Philadelphia has the Wage Equity Ordinance making it illegal to ask salary history. If you read the law itself, it looks like I’m covered because the company has employees and an office in Philly. But if you read an official FAQ, it doesn’t cover you if the job location is outside Philly, which this is.

Can I use the threat of legal action to negotiate a better offer? I didn’t give a number for what I’m looking for. The recruiter ran off to get a new number based on my history. But I want a higher offer since my last salary lost $10,000 in two years from raises not keeping up with inflation. Also, I have experience now in a technology which my prior employer said they would have given me a higher title for if I had had that coming in.

I was thinking about saying, “We don’t have to get lawyers involved and let your manager know, if..”

It’s a bad idea!

First and foremost, you don’t appear to actually be covered by Philadelphia’s law. The city’s FAQ on the law says it only applies to positions located within Philadelphia, which this job is not. (There are some exceptions to that, such as if you’d be spending a lot of time in the city, but I’m assuming you would have mentioned it if those applied.)

If you’re not covered by the law, you don’t have any standing to threaten legal action.

But even if you were covered, “we don’t have to get lawyers involved and let your manager know” is a bad approach. First, this isn’t really a legal battle; you’d simply be reporting them to the Philadelphia Commission on Human Relations. More importantly, you’re tying together two things that don’t necessarily belong together. Yes, they shouldn’t ask candidates about salary history (if indeed you were covered under the law), but they had already made you an offer without having that info, and you volunteered info about your previous salary as a negotiation point. They might have still been in technical violation when they asked you to elaborate (it’s not fully clear from the info on the city’s website), but introducing that information and then threatening legal action when they engaged with you on it won’t make you look like you’re operating in good faith.

It’s also unlikely to work. Most likely, they’ll be put off by the threat and just tell you that their original offer — the one they made without any info about your salary history — is firm.

Even if it worked, though, it’s unlikely to be in your best interests. They made you an offer that was presumably within their salary structure for the role and the team. Let’s say you successfully threaten them into offering more. What are the chances you’re going to find it easy to get raises there in the future versus having your salary stagnate because they don’t want it to get even more out of sync with others doing similar work? If you have to threaten an employer into offering you more, you’re better off just concluding that they don’t pay what you want … rather than embedding yourself into a company that you believe underpays (and which will presumably continue to underpay and resist raising your salary in the future).

To be clear, I am not saying we shouldn’t hold companies accountable for following the law. And I hate that workers considering holding companies legally accountable need to factor in whether it will get them labeled overly adversarial or so forth. But in reality, you do — and in this case you’ve also got to consider whether making threats over it will get you the outcome you want or just poison the well.

All that said, if you think they violated the law, by all means report them to the agency charged with handling it! But using it to try to negotiate more money isn’t a good strategy.

{ 248 comments… read them below }

  1. MWKing*

    I’m pretty stunned that this is a sincere question. Do you actually think that starting a new job with the threat of legal action would be the start of a productive relationship for either party?

      1. A fed*

        Exactly! That was what i was thinking! they will pull the offer and blackball you in the future.

        1. ecnaseener*

          Probably depends on whether they said the “we don’t have to tell your manager” part – with that, they can legitimately say they pulled the offer because you tried to blackmail the recruiter, not because of the part where you said you would take legal action.

          1. Magenta Sky*

            And they’d be right. “You did something illegal but I won’t tell your boss if you give me what I want” could, many places, qualify for criminal prosecution.

        2. MK*

          I doubt it. Retaliation would be if they blackballed her for refusing to break the law and disclose her salary history. Blackballing someone for trying to blackmail the company isn’t that, and I am not even sure if retaliation is relevant when OP isn’t an employee.

        3. CityMouse*

          The law clearly doesn’t apply to her though, so she has absolutely no basis to make a.claim in the first place or claim retaliation.

        4. StressedButOkay*

          It sounds like the law doesn’t apply and the company wouldn’t be breaking any laws by withdrawing the offer. If they had several candidates in the running, to them it might make more sense to offer the job to someone who didn’t bring up legal action right off the bat when there’s no legal standing to do so.

        5. Bear Expert*

          I think it would be really uphill to call “We decided we couldn’t take the risk of hiring someone who quickly resorts to blackmail” illegal retaliation.

          I can’t hire someone who tries to blackmail people to get what they want, I’d have to watch them like a hawk.

      2. OMG, Bees!*

        Even worse, just remembered. The LW’s friend either referred her or told her about the job, so not only would the job offer be pulled, the relationship with the friend would be harmed, AND how the company would thinking negatively of the friend for referring LW.

    1. E*

      It’s also a reasonable question for the company to ask at this point. The offer was less than the LW was making before, they would need to know how far off the offer is. A better answer for the LW may have been – I was making $$, and am looking to make at least $$$ due to …. skills.

      1. Czhorat*

        It is – at the very least – a grey area. I am the opposite of a lawyer, but the company didn’t proactively ask the salary history, the LW volunteered that it was below the current offer. It feels as if they are the ones who opened up this avenue of discussion.

        The company’s lawyer can certainly make the case that it the applicant who brought up salary history. Bringing it up and then attempting legal blackmail for asking a follow-up question feels like the very definition of bad-faith.

      2. Beth*

        Ideally the question they’d’ve asked to figure out how far off the offer is would be “What are your salary needs for your next role?”, not “How much were you making in your last role?” It sounds like the flow of this conversation set them up for the latter, but it’s ultimately not relevant–what they need to know is what OP would accept. (Case in point: it sounds like OP is looking for a salary increase over their last job, given the concern about losing ground to inflation over the last two years. Offering them their current salary would still not have been a compelling offer.)

      3. AngryOctopus*

        Even just “I’m looking for $$$ based on my previous salary and acquisition of skills in X, Y, and Z since I have been working at Company A”. They can even still say that if they get a new offer that’s higher but not what they’re looking for. That’s the negotiation part. But saying “I’ll bring in a lawyer and complain if you don’t meet my needs” is…combative at best.

        1. Buffy will save us*

          I would have done “I’m looking more in the X to Y range.” And hopefully OP has done some research that “X to Y” is the normal pay range for that job in the Philly suburbs.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, I would just assume that the company would rescind the offer because why on Earth wouldn’t they?

      1. Irish Teacher.*

        I guess if it HAD been against the law, it’s possible they might do a “keep your friends close and your enemies closer; she’s bound to report us if we don’t hire her ’cause she’d have nothing to lose,” but the consequences of being reported would want to be pretty severe for them to go to those lengths and I am guessing that’s probably not the case with this law.

        And even if it was, I’m not sure working for somebody who only employed you to keep you quiet and who sees you as a threat, would be a particularly enjoyable situation.

        But I suspect the LW might be banking on them appeasing her so she wouldn’t report them.

        1. Banana Pyjamas*

          Yep. I specifically decided not to apply for a position because the job post violated a state law that other job postings cited by statute number. My thought was from the very beginning I’m going to have to corral them to follow the law, no thank you.

          I think that’s the takeaway for LW. They lowballed then asked for your current salary. Asking was shitty but not illegal. This is enough to assume that getting a reasonable wage at this company will always be a struggle and they should pass.

          1. Greg*

            Do we know they lowballed? They offered LW a different salary than they wanted but that isn’t always lowballing. And they didn’t ask what the previous salary was, LW stated that the offer was less than their previous salary and the perfectly natural follow up was, “Well, what was that?” I don’t see that as shitty, I see it as a pretty typical interaction.

    3. kiki*

      Yeah… this wouldn’t be a good move at all! It also seems like LW’s really trying to play things both ways in a way I don’t think is feasible. I get that they’re just trying to identify whatever leverage they might have, but threatening legal action so you can get a pay bump is going to rub folks the wrong way. I also don’t think this really follows the spirit of the law. That law is trying to prevent companies from using existing salaries to lowball candidates. The recruiter here asked the information so they could use it as justification to pay you more than what they were planning on offering.

      I think LW could go back to the recruiter and say, my previous salary was not a number I was happy with– it did not keep up with inflation. That is a big reason why I am looking for a new role. The number I am looking for is X. Based on other salary data, this is well within the average range for this type of position. Can we work with that as a jumping off point?

      1. AngryOctopus*

        And FWIW, they “lowballed” the LW without knowing previous salary. This to me indicates that they have a lower budget overall for their position. It happens! Not every place has the budget! It’s also possible that 1-salary is low but benefits help to make that up (larger 401(K) match, cover more of insurance, etc.) or 2-they’re paying under market value, and people aren’t going to take the jobs because of that. It’s not LWs job to force them to market rate (they may have to learn that via several people saying “this salary doesn’t meet my needs so thanks but no thanks”). But either way, threatening legal action won’t bring a great job offer AND a collegial working environment. It’s much more likely to end with a “oh, sorry, we’re withdrawing the offer”.

        1. ferrina*

          Yep, this is pretty common. Not every company does a good job pricing their jobs. But I’m also wondering about it the other way- is OP aware of what market rate is for this role? OP is just basing their number off Previous Salary + 10k. Is that in-line with what market rate is?

          1. kiki*

            I was thinking that as well! I could totally be wrong, but in my field (tech), a lot of folks who were hired in their current jobs in 2020-2021 wouldn’t be likely to find a pay increase from jumping companies like they used to be. That may be the case for LW or it might not. I think they should make sure they’ve looked at recent market data for their industry and role. Not that they shouldn’t try to get the number they want, but they should also make sure they’re being realistic about how likely it is they will receive that number anywhere.

          2. General von Klinkerhoffen*

            And sometimes the reason a person is worth $X+10k doesn’t apply to the new job.

            Maybe Sally gets paid $10k more than John at Company A because their suppliers are all in South America and she speaks Spanish and Portuguese. But Company B sources all its products from Canada so her linguistic skill isn’t worth a penny to them.

            This is the like a bottle of water being $1 at the supermarket, $3 in a coffee shop and $7 at the airport.

        2. Greg*

          It seems particularly relevant that LW was laid off, no? So the market may have readjusted itself to a lower band. LW also seems like they have expectations different than the company (or market!).

          This may seem heartless, but I don’t take what a potential employee’s previous employer told them about future earning potential or their schedule of raises into account when pulling an offer letter together. I do have a conversation about salary expectations before we get to the final interview: “The salary range for this position is $x-y. Does it make sense for us to continue based on that information.” But what their previous financial arrangement was and what they feel it should have been isn’t even considered.

    4. Keeley Jones, The Independent Wonan*

      Having spent some time on various job related subreddits, this doesn’t surprise me a bit.

      1. kiki*

        I feel like there’s a growing sentiment that there are all sorts of special hacks and negotiating techniques to get a better offer from companies and that if you’re not willing to be a shark with these strategies, you’re just leaving tremendous amounts of money on the table. And it’s true that applicants should negotiate and there are strategies to negotiation that will help, they’re not the sensational cool ones people post about on reddit or tiktok.

        Reddit and tiktok reward posters who are entertaining, not people who actually are helping people be successful in job negotiation! A post that says you should threaten legal action against a company will get views because it’s exciting. A post that outlines the sorts of data you should show recruiters to demonstrate that your proposed salary is reasonable is boring and probably won’t get a lot of views. But the latter actually works more often.

        1. Irish Teacher.*

          To be fair, I’m not sure it’s entirely new. This sounds very much like something my grandmother would have said. Probably with “Oh Judge Judy said they’re not allowed to ask you that. You should use that to get them to pay you more. I wouldn’t leave that money to them.” (Keep in mind that we are in Ireland, so any legal pronouncements Judge Judy might make are not even relevant to our jurisdiction!)

          I think the internet just allows this stuff to travel further.

          1. Dust Bunny*

            It’s just another form of snake oil. There’s a guy blabbering at me on YouTube right now about how to cleanse “pounds of p**p” lingering in your colon, and unless your diet is horrific or you have a specific medical condition than needs professional attention, that’s just not a thing. It’s just somebody trying to get your money.

          2. Magenta Sky*

            Nothing Judge Judy says is legally relevant in the US, either. To be on the show, you have to have some sort of petty lawsuit that you agree to drop in exchange for being on the show. *Both* parties get paid, with the “loser” (who is chosen based on entertainment values, not legal merits) has the judgement taken out of their share (which still has to be the union minimum).

            (At least, that was the case with the one I was offered to be on, which was a different show, but they’re all based on Judge Judy, who was the first.)

            It’s “reality television,” and the most telling thing about “reality” shows is that they all list script writers in their credits.

            1. doreen*

              Judge Judy is especially not relevant because as I heard her say many times. she deals in “general principles” not in any particular state’s laws so there may be a very different result than would happen in an actual small claims court in the jurisdiction where the events happened.

              1. Grizabella the Glamour Cat*

                Yes, The People’s Court with Judge Wapner! It ran from 1981 to 1993, according to the Google machine, which I just consulted. That was a long ass time ago!

            2. Firefighter (Metaphorical)*

              Thank you for explaining that! That’s fascinating! I’ve never actually seen Judge Judy but I have always been idly curious about how it worked from a legal pov to have the hearing on the telly.

              1. Byzantine*

                For the legal shows in the US, what is happening is that the parties are dropping their lawsuits to enter into binding arbitration with the “judge” actually being an arbitrator (I mean, Judge Judy was a judge before her show, but now she is just an arbitrator). The reason that people agree to be on the show and air their drama for the all the world to see is that no money is coming out of their pocket.

                So IRL, maybe both parties may agree that A owes B $750 to replace the tablet that was destroyed, but A might not have the means to pay B, so by going on the show and providing the drama, B will get their $750.

      2. ABC*

        I was thinking that this sounds like a TikTok-influenced letter, but it also checks out for certain subreddits as well.

    5. Molly Coddler*

      That was my reaction. We’d try to pull the offer in a ‘not really pulling your offer but you’re never getting hired’ kind of way if that were at all possible. My fear would be that someone litigious at this stage will be a nightmare to work with.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        No matter how litigious you are, you still need to find a lawyer who will take the case (and it’s hard to imagine a competent lawyer touching this with a pretty hefty retainer up front – if at all).

      2. Bear Expert*

        Its not even the litigiousness for me, though that’s annoying too. What’s the real death knell is that I do not have a role where someone trying to use blackmail is acceptable, and the “we won’t tell management” maneuver puts chills down my spine.

        My people act independently and need to represent the company – our friend has just demonstrated they cannot be trusted to do that well. If one of my staff runs across non compliance to law or policy, I need them to handle it totally above board with respect and professionalism, and I need them to tell me about it, not think its a negotiating point even if they’re trying to use it to achieve a goal I’ve given them. Trust is non negotiable.

        I can’t hire someone who I know I’ll have to make sure isn’t blackmailing people and not telling me about it.

      3. Greg*

        Blackmail and litigious nature are worries here for me. But the whole letter reads pretty unreasonable! Getting laid off and not adjusting expectations. Referring back to what their previous manager told them what was going to happen if they did certain things. Applying salary schedules from a previous job to a job offer (when they got laid off!). The whole letter screamed general lack of awareness.

      4. Union Nerd*

        Yes, leaping to legal threats makes me think that LW doesn’t know how to have reasonable discussions at the best of times and would only get worse over time. I might be very wrong, but I don’t know if I’d want to take the risk if I were hiring someone.

        I am strongly supportive of employees’ rights but I also want to have a healthy workplace, and I have seen how aggressive coworkers such as Howell from this morning’s posts can affect an entire workplace. I am very thankful that our union prefers that conflict-avoidant managers address problem employees, and even better if they never work here.

    6. Pretty as a Princess*

      And: “We don’t have to let your manager know….”.: there is absolutely no way that a recruiter just pulled up a number to convey in an offer without getting that number approved, and justifying the change from the original offer to someone with that approval authority. You can’t just blackmail a recruiter into a higher offer with the “reward” of not telling on them.

      The letter is odd in that it also states that the recruiter went and did some additional analysis and came back with a new number – but never said anything about how that new number fell in line with the salary info they offered to the recruiter. It sounds like the recruiter acted in good faith and had to execute some kind of exception process (that is not a decision a recruiter just gets to make) and the LW is now saying “well that’s not good enough either.” But they *didn’t* say “the new number was also lower than my prior comp.”

      The LW is also conflating their wage history/negotiations with the prior employer with the negotiations with the new company in a really weird way with the whole “Also, I have experience now in a technology which my prior employer said they would have given me a higher title for if I had had that coming in.” Well, that experience should be on their resume and was presumably considered when the new company made their offer. How that experience was handled or not at the prior employer is irrelevant.

      I think this all boils down to the LW was unprepared to talk about salary expectations, did not handle the conversation well, and is basically faulting the recruiter.

      1. Poison I.V. drip*

        “there is absolutely no way that a recruiter just pulled up a number to convey in an offer without getting that number approved, and justifying the change from the original offer to someone with that approval authority. You can’t just blackmail a recruiter into a higher offer with the “reward” of not telling on them.”

        This. The naivete implied by this question…it’s something I’d expect from a fifth grader, not an adult who’s been in the working world.

      2. Paulina*

        “Give me more money or I’ll tell your manager that you illegally asked me for my previous salary information.”

        “My manager already knows you told me that information, how do you think I justified the new higher offer?”

        Plus the person being blackmailed has to actually have the power to give what’s being demanded. The recruiter does not.

    7. Colingcutie12*

      Exactly!! “I’m unemployed, but let me threaten this job because they will definitely increase the salary and give me the job!”

      1. Rex Libris*

        A lot of people seem to go through life on the theory that if they’re not getting what they want, increasing the level of hostility will obviously result in a win. I wonder why they never stop and check how it’s working.

        1. Magenta Sky*

          In many cases – say, making a return on non-returnable merchandise in a retail store – it *does* work because a lot of people are extremely averse to confrontation.

          This is learned behavior, and some people will extrapolate it to other areas of life.

    8. Beth*

      Yeah, you can’t threaten to sue or report someone and expect to have a positive working relationship going forward. Legal action is a last-ditch “You’re violating my legally protected rights and it’s already destroyed our working relationship; I’m calling you on it in hopes of getting some recompense/forcing you to do better with the next person in my position/etc” strategy.

      1. Jaydee*

        I know of so many people who prevailed against an employer or landlord, whether in a court case or something like a discrimination complaint to the EEOC or local civil rights commission and ended up getting a new job or moving even if part of the final outcome was that they were entitled to keep their job or housing. The relationship had soured so much they couldn’t actually stick around.

    9. NerdyKris*

      “We don’t have to get lawyers involved and let your manager know, if..”
      “You’re right, we don’t! Offer rescinded.”

      Valiantly snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. And you know they’re going to tell EVERYONE about it, so good luck ever getting an interview in that field again. “Oh, hey, it’s that guy that tries to sue you at the end of the interview. Not even gonna bother with that one”

    10. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

      Haha, Welcome to Eastern Pennsylvania. We do things like this. It’s a mess here.

    11. NaoNao*

      Honestly I was at first too, but I sort of (?) get it on some level. Not this…exact scenario, but I’m so worn out from the games, lies, disrespect, low-balling, “ghosting”, unprofessionalism, and low down dirty tactics that I can see how someone would be ready to launch a “nothing to lose” lawsuit to just prove a point.
      But not someone who themselves brought salary up first!

    12. GreenDoor*

      Right! By OP’s own admission, they proactively disclosed their current salary. What grounds would they have for suggesting litigation if the employer then used that disclosure to make its decisions? There were dozens of other ways to handle salary talk here. The fact that OP isn’t good thinking on their feet isn’t a basis for a lawsuit.

    13. Dog momma*

      Is this Howell from yesterday’s post?
      Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your!

    14. OMG, Bees!*

      Yep, threatening legal action just to get into the company with a higher salary is going to put LW on the chopping block for first to go (legally).

      It’s like a lot of stories on Malicious Compliance, not reporting something because a boss says you aren’t paid to think, etc, and let a small problem become a big problem. You might win the battle, but then have to start looking for a new job as at best the boss will forever make working there worse.

  2. ferrina*

    If OP did this, I’d rescind the offer because I’d be worried about hiring a person who is willing to blackmail to get what they want (and blackmail based on a bluff). That is not the ethics of someone I’d want to work with.
    See the earlier post from this morning- what you see is what you get, so be discerning in the hiring process.

    1. Tired and Cold*

      Agreed. This is a huge red flag that you’ll be a long term problem for the company, so better to cut your losses now and start over the search.

    2. Artemesia*

      Me too. And of course they are not competing to get you. You are unemployed and so your current salary is 0; your previous salary is irrelevant. Of course you can try to negotiate higher but a threat of legal action is a great way to make sure you are blacklisted at that company.

  3. sal*

    I disagree with Alison that the offer’s salary was made for a reason and trying to get a better offer now could stagnate you in the future; my own salary history has done very weird stuff over the years, even though I work in government. My experience is that the powers that be are less rational than one might expect, although this occasionally works to one’s benefit (i.e. brought in at a lower-than-desired salary, but given frequent raises/COLA adjustments). I think you should still try to get a higher offer, for what it’s worth! Just not using the WEO.

    1. Pretty as a Princess*

      Alison did not say that negotiating would stagnate the LW. She said that making this weird threat AFTER they responded to a negotiation was likely to do so.

      1. ferrina*

        Especially since it looks like the recruiter was trying to meet what OP wanted. OP said they were looking for something in-line with what their previous salary was. (they might not have meant to say it that way, but it sounds like that’s what they said). The recruiter went to try to get that.

        When recruiter comes back and says “we got what you wanted” and OP says, “actually I want 10k more”, that’s already a bad look. It shows that OP didn’t do a good job thinking of what salary they wanted before the got to the offer stage, and OP didn’t do a good job of communicating. If OP might have a chance if they say, “I am so sorry to do this to you, but I realize I miscommunicated earlier- my previous salary was $X, but that was artificially low due to internal practice. I’m actually looking for $X+10. Is that doable?”

        But if OP says, “I know you got me what I said I wanted, but you did it the wrong way and now I’ll sue if you don’t get me 10k more!”, that makes OP into some weird villain character. Who jumps to a lawsuit when the other party actually gives them what they said they wanted?

    2. Tio*

      Most salaries are set according to the budget and/or what they’re currently paying other people. If you’re out of whatever that range is, then meeting your request means either something else in the budget has to give way, or you’ll be overpaid compared to the other workers, which could cause a myriad of problems. And there are definitely companies who will hire you at a higher wage and then not give you any raises because you’re already “overpaid”. I honestly consider that part of the powers that be not being rational, because you lose people like this!

      1. Llama Llama*

        My company definitely has two factors for raises. How well you did that year and your how well you are in market range.

    3. Twix*

      While Alison’s point has some truth to it across the board, this is not generally her advice to people in salary negotiations. What makes it different in this case is that any pay bump wouldn’t have a clear justification to anyone who wasn’t privy to the blackmail. There’s a big difference between “We’re hiring Dave at $15k above our normal starting salary because he’s great at what he does and has an uncommon skill set we really needs” and “We’re hiring Dave at $15k above our normal starting salary for no obvious reason”.

  4. Spargle*

    Why would I hire someone who talked about bringing in lawyers before they even accepted the offer? I would rescind immediately.

    1. ferrina*

      “I made a dumb move, but I think I can blame the other party. How do I get them to clean up my mess? Lawyers can do that, right?”

      Srsly, someone has been watching too much Suits.

    2. Glazed Donut*

      Yeah, what does this say about the potential hire? Unless it’s some kind of law-adjacent role, they are playing Legal Eagle and trying to run to a lawyer at any slight – and especially one that was their own misstep that they regret!

  5. CityMouse*

    I’m genuinely shocked by this question. The company isn’t covered by a city ordinance, even if they were they only followed up on a question where YOU raised your previous salary as a negotiating tactic, which I seriously doubt would be a violation of this ordinance. You can’t raise an issue and then say a reasonable follow up is a violation. So even under the absolute most charitable interpretation, the company didn’t do anything. So threatening them with legal action frankly would just be completely self sabotaging, definitely get you on a “do not hire” list here, potentially create a reputation in the field you very much do not want, potentially hurt your friend and blow up your friendship.

    So, absolutely not, in no circumstances should you threaten legal action as a negotiating tactic (if the company HAD committed a legal violation, you could report it, but you certainly wouldn’t also then try to work there).

    1. MK*

      Also, legal action doesn’t really work that way. Sometimes laypeople think “illegal action=lawsuit=I get what I want”, but it doesn’t actually work that way. My guess would be that an infraction like asking for a candidate’s salary history results in a fine or similar (and I would be very surprised if the company wasn’t treated with leniency once it was made clear that they weren’t actively asking). But it’s unlikely that a lawsuit would fly, since OP hasn’t suffered any damages.

      1. Paulina*

        The LW seems to be thinking “company will get sanctioned, they will be angry and fire the recruiter for screwing up, so I can blackmail the recruiter who will give in in order to keep their job.” But they’re unfamiliar with one of the key parts of blackmail, that it has to be for something that the person being blackmailed can actually give you. The recruiter can’t increase the salary without good justification (or without doing more wrong things, like forging).

        Meanwhile the LW is the one who brought up their previous salary in negotiations anyway, so even if the law applied in their area it wouldn’t be relevant.

  6. Insert Pun Here*

    I’ve never understood the argument against asking for a raise now even if it means your salary might stagnate in the future. This is basic time value of money stuff: those dollars are more valuable to you now than they would be in the future. Also, if your salary stagnates in the future, you can…get a new job.

    With that said, threatening to sue over a law that doesn’t really apply to you is a super bad idea, and any company with one halfway competent lawyer will see right through it.

    1. Tio*

      Because it’s not an either or – You could accept the higher salary and have to job hunt again in a couple years, and risk looking like a jobhopper, or you can continue to search now and find a job that will offer higher salary to start with AND probably give you raises. If you want to stay somewhere for a while, the latter tends to be a better course. But I think a lot of people view offers like the only offer they will receive, and panic a little, especially if they really need a job for whatever reason.

      1. Insert Pun Here*

        But you’re still better off financially with a higher salary now rather than at some time in the future. If I ask for a raise at my job and get it, I’m better off right now.

        I guess if you REALLY hate job hunting, your explanation makes sense.

        1. AngryOctopus*

          I think the point is, if you’re hired at the higher salary now you are better off. But if they they don’t/won’t give you a raise, you’re behind almost immediately. It’s better to find a place that treats you fairly with salary and raises than one that says “well, we can meet your number but you won’t get a raise for 5 years”.

          1. The Terrible Tom*

            “if you’re hired at the higher salary now you are better off. But if they they don’t/won’t give you a raise, you’re behind almost immediately.”

            This doesn’t exactly follow, especially because a lot of places you won’t even be eligible for a raise for a year or more.

      2. Ally McBeal*

        You no longer look like a jobhopper if you wait “a couple years” between jobs. At this point we’ve lived with the understanding that you typically can’t get a raise above 10% without switching jobs for more than 20 years, and hiring managers understand that “company loyalty” is a thing of the past.

        1. Tio*

          Depends on how long you’re staying. If you have multiple single-year stints, yeah, you do still kinda look like jobhopper, at least to me. And the scenario to me is more along the lines of:
          Offer 1- they give a low offer. You fight them on it and get a higher offer, but no raise next year, because you were already outside their budget. You either sit at this salary for at least one more year or leave for another job.
          Offer 2 – they give you the amount you want off the bat, and one year later you get a regular raise putting you ahead of the salary you’d be at with Offer 1 without changing jobs.
          Now the thing is, you can’t tell whether offer 1 will do what is written above or not, which is why it might be a risk. But if you can find someone already willing to give you that salary, they generally don’t worry about giving you a raise because they didn’t spend more on you than they planned for. Obviously, you can have company 1’s that don’t do this, but it’s usually a bigger gamble than the chance that company 2 will not give you a raise.

          1. The Terrible Tom*

            A lot of people seem to be assuming your Offer 2 situation instead of what seems equally likely:

            Offer 3: You take a low salary now and get a measly increase later that doesn’t make up for what you are trying to be making now.

            1. Tio*

              Well, because in this case we were specifically talking about forcing a higher salary vs. looking for a salary that just starts higher. Offer 3 is also definitely a thing, but generally unless you must have a job ASAP you wouldn’t want to take Offer 3 unless you really had to. And a lot of people who would take it in that scenario would do so as a stopgap to finding Offer 1 or 2, and if it was a short stay leave it off their resume. At least, that’s what I would do if I had to.

              1. The Terrible Tom*

                You don’t know the difference between offer 1 and 2 at the offer/acceptance stage.

    2. Czhorat*

      It isn’t asking for a raise now; it’s asking for an initial salary outside the accepted band for the position. In that case you ARE likely to stagnate there, and it could mean taking the job is a bad move.

      If I’m offered a job paying $120K/year and the pay range is from 115 – 125 then I could expect raises every year. Even if the offer is at $125, I’d expect CoL raises as the salary band is adjusted for inflation.

      If I’m offered the job at $130, then I might get a zero raise next year, or less than the standard CoL because I’m already above what they’d pay me. If I was offered it at 100K I’d possibly get bigger raises to move me up towards the middle or top of the band.

      Basically an offer in the middle or near the bottom of a range is worth more in the long term than an offer near the top.

      1. Magenta Sky*

        By that logic, you should still ask for more money now. The choice is between making $120k now, and $130k later, or making $130k all the time.

        The real question is whether the expected raises from the lower initial salary will raise you above what you would get is started at the higher salary. So, $120k–>$130k–>$140k, vs $130k–>$130k–$130k. And that’s a tough question to answer.

        1. Czhorat*

          The point is that you might be better off accepting a different job in which you are NOT above the top of the salary structure.

      2. watermelon fruitcake*

        I’m sure Insert Pun Here understands the “logic” of it, but the point is that (continuing from your example) and extra $10k now is more valuable to me now, than potential raises would be in the future. First off those CoL raises are designed to offset inflation in the first place, so $10k next year is objectively worth less than $10k this year, and even less every subsequent year.

        Moreover, if you’re fortunate enough that that extra $10k would be purely disposable rather than necessary to meet expenses, then investing it conservatively (think mutual funds, set-it-and-forget-it for a decade or more; or putting it towards a home purchase) from the beginning will yield greater returns, even accounting for taxes, than future potential CoL raises. (I say “potential” because let’s not pretend those are always guaranteed; personal example but every four years our raises are in limbo for sometimes as long as 18 months as the contract is renegotiated, and the last contract didn’t come close to addressing COVID inflation. People who leave during the negotiation period do NOT get back pay at the new negotiated rate, even if those of us who stick around do.)

        And if you’re less fortunate and instead need that higher salary for lifestyle expenses… Then it is even more valuable as a current salary boost than a potential future raise, anyway. A landlord isn’t going to take, “I can’t pay that increase now, but my employer promises a 2.5% CoL at the start of their next fiscal year” as a response to their rent hike.

        I agree with Insert Pun Here. It’s irrational not to angle for a higher starting salary, especially when time and time again the reality is that your earnings potential is limited by your entry level, however long ago that may have been. Data supports this – and it’s quite literally the entire justification for regulations barring employers from asking about past salary in the first place.

    3. Beth*

      I think the idea is that, assuming you’re a marketable employee and your salary expectations are at market value for your role/experience level, there will be someone out there who’s willing to pay what you expect and also give normal raises and bonuses. A company that has to be cajoled into paying you market value will probably be stingy with you later on as well. I’m thinking of an “I have an offer from A and an offer from B, I’m more interested A but B offered a much higher salary, can I ask A to come up?” type scenario–you can ask, and A might even do it, but in the long run it’s probably more in your financial interest to take B’s offer.

      If your options are between a lower offer and a higher offer, all else being equal, you take the higher offer. That’s assumed by default.

    4. mlem*

      I agree that it’s a bad strategy to avoid a higher starting salary or raise in hopes of reaching the same point more slowly, but I don’t think that’s quite what Alison is pointing out in this particular case. If a starting offer is too low and you have to cajole them up, *that company* might then not progress your future salary, which might be a sign that a *different company* with a higher starting point might be a wiser investment.

    5. Artemesia*

      THAT is not what Alison said. The issue here is even if they had a timid management that agreed to meet the previous salary, having raised the legal issue would pretty much guarantee that future good faith raises might be endangered. She is not saying don’t negotiate a better salary; she is saying using blackmail will sour the future job even if it works (which is almost certainly won’t). Any sensible company would withdraw the offer and blacklist the applicant who threatens a lawsuit before even walking in the door.

      1. Insert Pun Here*

        But she has consistently given similar advice about salary/raises in the past, regarding situations that were way more normal. She writes: “What are the chances you’re going to find it easy to get raises there in the future versus having your salary stagnate because they don’t want it to get even more out of sync with others doing similar work?”

        Financially you’re better off taking the high salary now, even if your salary stagnates in the future—for the reasons watermelon fruitcake explains above. (Which is not to say it’s wise to threaten legal action to get it—that almost certainly ends with having no salary at all.)

  7. Chairman of the Bored*

    No way I would hire a person who took this approach – especially when the law actually isn’t on their side.

    There’s actually a way to do this that will come across as professional and reasonable. This isn’t it, and would not justify any response beyond “Sorry, nevermind, offer is rescinded.”

  8. Philly Guy*

    OP, I run a company in Philly. This is so wrong on so many levels. They are:
    1. The job is not in Philly. As Alison said, you’re not covered. Period. Trust me—there’s a reason so many Philly companies have an office in the suburbs.
    2. YOU volunteered your salary info. After that, they can ask for full details. You can’t introduce information and then say no questions allowed. Not only is this legally wrong (again, I’ve been there); it’s totally divorced from how negotiations work. Once you brought up the subject, it’s in the table.
    3. Most importantly, you are showing a level of entitlement beyond belief. No one owes you a job at any salary. You have no action to bring. You’ll embarrass yourself.

    BTW, if you do proceed, prepare to be mocked early and often. Our parents threw snowballs at Santa Claus. Their kids (e.g., my generation) are equally as aggressive. They will rip you to shreds on social media. That will destroy your career. Do you really want that?

    1. MsM*

      On the other hand, we are the city that sees the authorities grease poles after sporting events to try and deter climbing, and goes, “Oh ho, a challenge!”, so OP’s attitude isn’t that much of a surprise from that perspective.

    2. Nonke John*

      I totally did the Sheela Allen-Stephens “WTF?!” expression when I read this question.

      1. JTP*

        Oh, not the Santa reference again. Santa never actually showed up, and they pulled some drunk guy from the stands to act as a stand-in.

    3. Lurking Tom*

      I went to a Phillies game in the early 2000s where the fans booed a Phillies player (Doug Glanville maybe?) for not making a catch to save a no-hitter something like a month before the game I was at. Philadelphia has no mercy!

      1. Writer Claire*

        The phrase I heard from a sportscaster was “Philly fans would boo a cure for cancer.”

        1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

          Only if it fails to run out a grounder to first. And then, that @$?&ing cure deserves it!

      2. Decima Dewey*

        Philadelphia loves its sports teams. And when the sports teams don’t come through, Philadelphia lets them know!

        1. Fluffy Fish*

          They’ve made hockey players cry and got their team penalized for throwing things on the ice.

      3. londonedit*

        We don’t tend to boo our own players (unless the team as a whole has been dreadful, in which case they’ll get booed off at half-time/full-time/both) but if you want to know about holding grudges against opposition players, let me introduce you to English football fans. We will boo a player who once played for a team we hate every time they touch the ball, even if they’re not playing for that team and haven’t played for that team in the last decade. We’ll boo a player who once committed some perceived slight or dodgy tackle against one of our players YEARS after the event.

  9. Not my coffee*

    I am not stunned this a question.

    Norms are changing. If laws are in place, legal action can be an option. Whether or not it wise to do so is the issue.

    1. NerdyKris*

      Even if it was illegal to do, blackmail and extortion are also crimes, and there’s no “two wrongs make a right” in the legal world.

    2. Chairman of the Bored*

      Legal action is *always* an option inasmuch as (broadly speaking) anybody can retain a lawyer and threaten to bring a suit against anybody for any reason or no reason at all.

      The larger point is that invoking legal action in this situation is very likely to be at best an embarrassing waste of time and at worst actively injurious to LW’s goals.

    3. HonorBox*

      But in this case, the law referenced is not applicable. The law clearly applies to one particular jurisdiction, where the OP would not be working. This isn’t even grey area or squishy parts of the law. This does not apply here.

    4. Daryush*

      Point is, the laws are not in place. She doesn’t live or work in the city with the law she’s referencing.

    5. Well well well if it isn’t the consequences to my actions.*

      Legal action is a remedy to an injustice. It is a deterrent for companies and individuals from being stupid. It is not a negotiation tool. You use legal action as a “we have tired handling this and now we are taking it to court” last resort. You should not threaten legal action unless you fully intend and are ready to take it and deal with the consequences. Like in my company, a threat of a lawsuit means no more customer service calls for you until you sign a document with legal saying the matter has been resolved to your satisfaction.

      1. Bes*

        I once saw a one-star Google review for a small business saying they blocked her number and the owner response was to the extent of: “Since you’ve decided to threaten legal action due to a simple misunderstanding, further correspondence is to go through our lawyers.” I laughed out loud.

    6. Capital Chuck*

      Laws are not in place. By the OP’s own admission, the law in question does not apply to this role. OP is trying some very dubious mental gymnastics in an attempt to find a way to get what they want, and is ignoring reality, legality and frankly, sanity in the pursuit.

    7. doreen*

      I’m stunned by this question for a number of reasons – starting with “Asking salary history is illegal in the nearest city and that may or may not cover me.” The LW knows the job is not in Philadelphia but somehow thinks the ordinance will cover it – which really makes no sense. For a Philadelphia ordinance to apply something must occur within the city and there’s no indication in the letter that anything did. Philadelphia can’t regulate a job in one of its suburbs any more than it can regulate a job in Pittsburgh or NYC.

      But there’s so much more – the penalty if this company violated this ordinance is a fine. There isn’t necessarily a basis for a lawsuit even if the company violated this ordinance – and it’s questionable whether they did, since they didn’t ask about the current salary until the LW brought it p. But sure, she can take legal action if they don’t cave in to her blackmail attempt – as long as she’s willing to pay a lawyer because I can’t imagine one taking it on contingency. And the employer will know that, too.

    8. Artemesia*

      When you say ‘it doesn’t match my previous salary’ — asking what that salary does is not going to violate the law anyway. The OP brought it up.

  10. AngryOctopus*

    OP, I’m not even sure what you’d hope to gain by a legal threat. They made you an offer. It was lower than you expected/wanted from a new job. At this point you either negotiate or walk away. Telling your salary to the recruiter wasn’t the worst thing to do, but you can either negotiate based on whatever the new offer is (seems like you didn’t get it yet?) or you say “I’m sorry, that salary/benefits package doesn’t meet my needs, so I have to say no”. Threats of legal action are only going to make you seem like a bad decision for them-seems like they didn’t violate any laws at all about salary questions, and you’re going to seem like you’re threatening them simply because their budget doesn’t meet your expectations. That wouldn’t start out a productive working relationship.

    1. The Terrible Tom*

      Yeah; I disagree with a lot of claims people are making about the relative value of a higher salary now versus a raise later, but I definitely think if the choices are “take legal action before you’ve even been hired” and “keep searching”, do that latter.

  11. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    This is a super aggressive way of trying to get what you want and I’d find it very off-putting. Instead, prepare arguments for why a higher salary makes sense if they come back matching your previous one.

  12. Sparkles McFadden*

    I think this might be the oddest question ever asked here, and that’s really saying something.

    To be fair, there have been other questions where people have asked how to force someone to give them an interview or a particular job, but the answer is always that you can’t force anyone to do anything. In this case, you’d end up on the “don’t ever hire this person” list for sure.

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      It’s the United States. My definition of what’s odd is definitely getting smaller, since legal action over the pettiest little thing (or at least the threat of legal action) seems to be the norm.

  13. Busy Middle Manager*

    Perhaps unpopular opinion: besides this being the obvious and glaring predictable downside of not being able to ask salary history, no one is guaranteed a raise when job hopping.

    I always found it weird how the internet has stated as fact that 1) you need to job hop 2) you get raises when job hopping, and 3) the only way to significantly raise your salary is job hop.
    This is one of the few job advice things I have not seen play out at all (except early career where salary increases are inevitable anyways). I’ve worked in general business ops then technical account manager then shifted more towards an automation and software side of operations. No job just gave people above market/above the salaries of current employees, to new employees, just because they wanted a raise to switch jobs.

    In fact I took pay cuts to get into my longer two jobs. Made sense at the time. I had accomplishments under my belt at previous jobs and had none at the new employer.

    1. AngryOctopus*

      It’s not unreasonable to think that moving jobs will get you a higher salary. Gained skills + more experience overall may often result in a higher salary. But as you said, it’s not a guarantee. Not every company has the same budget for jobs and might pay at the lower end of a salary band. But they could have better benefits too, so you have to look at the whole package (I accepted a lower salary for current job because it has way better benefits and a 401(K) program which has given me substantially more $$ in my retirement accounts).
      I do want to say that you shouldn’t accept a lower salary for a new job simply because you don’t have any accomplishments at the new employer. They’re hiring you based on your accomplishments. Budgets and salary band positions can be different, but to say “I won’t make as much here because they don’t know what I can do” is silly. They do know. They see your history.

    2. Melissa*

      I don’t find this to be my experience. “No job just gives..” yes. yes they do. I can go to any employer right now and get 20k more than I am making and I am already making 30k more than glassdoor says I should be. I went from $10 an hour to $140k in 6 years. It’s all what you can convince them you’re worth.

          1. Sleve*

            … and then it turns out Melissa’s name ends with French Gates and she really does think $140k an hour jobs are easy to find.

            (No shade meant towards MFG. Jokes aside, she does appear to be making a good-faith attempt at keeping in touch with the reality of normal people’s lives.)

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        If this is a serious comment (TBH I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic with the way you worded it) these sort of comments always raise the question, then why don’t you do it? I see this on other forums “I got a huge raise job hopping AND could be making 40K more elsewhere!” Seems hard to believe that both could be true at the same time, but if they are in some unique circumstance, why aren’t you applying to that job that pays tens of thousand more, right now, and get it over with?

      2. doreen*

        The whole sentence was longer than that – sure, you’ll get more if you can convince them you are worth more , but that’s not paying above market/more than current employees to new employees “just because they wanted a raise to switch jobs.” Maybe you are worth more than market- but not everybody is.

    3. Beth*

      It’s true that no one is guaranteed a raise, but a lot of people find that if they’ve been at their job for a few years, they’re being paid less than market value. (Even if a company gives annual raises, many people find that they don’t keep pace with market value.) People also usually build skills and gather achievements over a few years’ tenure at a company, which often can justify coming in at a higher band at a new company. So yeah, getting a raise when job hunting is pretty common.

      I can’t imagine taking a pay cut for a new role unless something unusual was happening. If I was transitioning into an entirely new field and expected to be in a much lower role than I’d been in before? If I was expecting to work way fewer hours? If I was relocating to a much lower COL area? Ok, sure. But in the normal course of things, you don’t take a pay cut for a new job. You still get credit for your accomplishments from your old job–yes, your new employer didn’t see them firsthand, but they’ll be getting the benefit of the experience and skill you gained while achieving them! That’s why you list them on your resume.

      1. E*

        It’s easy to not realize how much your role has expanded over time too. After working at one company for 8 years (way too long!) I was surprised to really see how much my actual role had changed over the years even when my title didn’t. Changing companies allows you to reevaluate if your pay & title actually match what you are doing. Mine didn’t and I when I sat and listed out what I did, I found I was severely underpaid and doing work a couple levels higher than my title.

      2. AngryOctopus*

        Not having achievements at the new job is a reason to not ask for a raise after 6 weeks (among other reasons you wouldn’t do that). But not a reason to take a pay cut! There are reasons people take paycuts, and that’s fine. Everyone has to make their own choices. But “I have not achieved anything at this new job, therefore they should pay me less” is not it.

      3. Busy Middle Manager*

        Wasn’t that unusual for me. One company did niche medical products and the next company only wanted to pay top dollar for experience in THEIR medical products. So I had a choice of stay with company one forever or temporarily go down, learn, and move back up.

        Then at that company I did a bunch of regulatory stuff that was pretty much either completely irrelevant elsewhere (to be clear, the laws applied to many companies but the data we gathered to comply was pretty “special” I would say) and TBH was above my paygrade at the time, and I ended up deleting it off my resume because it looked like I was either exaggerating experience or was a master-of-nothing type

        So basically, so much experience is valuable at the same job but not transferable. I cant be the only one!

    4. CityMouse*

      The other thing is, LW was laid off. If their industry or job had a downturn they’re suddenly part of a flooded market. In those circumstances, you are often at a disadvantage.

    5. Twix*

      This is highly industry-dependent, but in mine it’s absolutely true. The reason for that is that the increase in starting salaries with experience significantly outpaces what you’re likely to get as a raise in an established position, so “market rate” and “what long-term employees make” can be very different. I’ve been in my current role for ~10 years and have several good reasons for staying, but I’m in a senior role and could probably very easily get hired at a 30-50k pay bump if I wanted to change jobs.

      1. Twix*

        (It’s also worth mentioning that I work in a STEM field in the private sector, and the fact that workers have such a high incentive to change jobs every few years is something widely discussed in my industry as a huge looming problem. Boomers with 30-40 years of experience doing the same job are starting to retire en masse and the institutional/tribal knowledge they have is being lost because there are very few younger people who’ve been in a particular role long enough to learn it from them.)

      2. Busy Middle Manager*

        I have a question – where does it stop though? I read (bad) advice on reddit and people always act like you can do it in perpetuity but there has to be some cap? At what level/salary/age does it usually happen? There has to be some boundary or else everyone would be earning millions per year

        1. E*

          From my experience, once you get to a more senior individual contributor role it is more difficult to make huge jumps in salary by moving unless it’s a dramatically different type of company (20 person small business vs a fortune 500 corp). Once you reach that point, instead of huge salary changes you’re more likely to negotiate a bonus structure or other benefits – PTO, remote work, flex hours, vehicle allowance, etc.

        2. Twix*

          Well, you can’t job-hop indiscriminately – if you change jobs every six months, people will stop hiring you. The sweet spot seems to be 2-3 years in a role. And you’d expect maybe a 10-15k bump each time. I’d probably be able to get 30-50 because I’ve been in the same role for over 10 years.

          And as E said, later in your career it tends to plateau unless you go into something like management at a Fortune 500, private consulting, or start your own company.

    6. amoeba*

      I think it’s extremely field dependent! In my European country, I have lawyer friends for whom it basically works that way – you get much better offers by changing around. In my field, not so much (although I’d always aim at a slight improvement, but also just because I’d probably be missing out on the next annual salary review if I change!)

    7. Cmdrshprd*

      “In fact I took pay cuts to get into my longer two jobs. Made sense at the time.”

      I don’t know that it makes sense to get a pay cut just to get into a different job. It can make sense to take a pay cut if something else about the job is attractive, benefits, reduced hours, better upward mobility etc…

      But all else being equal I would say, it would not make sense to take a pay cut just to get into a new job. I recently got a new job, and jobs that offered less than I was making I did not apply. I mostly applied to jobs that disclosed the salary range and it was higher than I was making, I did apply to a few jobs that did not disclose and if I found it was lower than my current salary I pulled out. A few jobs would have been a $15k raise, but due to worse benefits it would have been a net decrease and I did not take it.

      Honestly for me, if I am relatively happy with my job, it would take a $5k or so minimum to change jobs, to me the known entity versus an unknown entity is worth making $5k less. But really I think a $10/15k+ would be more realistic to make the hassle of applying/starting a new job worth it.

      1. Busy Middle Manager*

        I commented elsewhere but basically A) niche company specific stuff that wasn’t transferable B) did stuff outside my area that got me bonus at same company but wouldn’t fit in the same role at a different company. C) hitting glass ceiling in terms of salary (this one I am curious about with other people because surely there is a limit you guys hit, or else everyone would be making 500K)

        1. Cmdrshprd*

          “It can make sense to take a pay cut if something else about the job is attractive, benefits, reduced hours, better upward mobility etc”

          Obviously I don’t know the full details, but to me what you have described seems to fall under reasons why it would make sense to take a pay cut. Mainly that you are at the top end of the range at your current job in a smaller org making say 80k with a range of 60-80k, but moving you would take a paycut to say $70k, but the range there is $70k-$100k, and/or the other company is bigger and has more room for growth.

          I do agree that there will generally be a limit to how much you can make, not everyone can be the CEO of a company making millions. But general advice isn’t meant to cover every single situation and apply forever.

          For some people they might find they could get a 20-40k raise but it would require longer hours they don’t want to do, more responsibility and stress etc…

          You are right no one is guaranteed a raise, but job switching is generally the best way to get a raise. I recently switched jobs and nearly doubled my pay, switching from non-profit to for-profit job.

          Also it seems like you might have stayed in the same industry but kinda switched roles/positions, the part about job hopping/switching also I think is implied you stay in the same type of job position and gain more experience. Similar to college, if you keep switching majors every year you might have a ton of credits/experience but they won’t all count towards graduation because not enough are in a single major.

      2. amoeba*

        I’d add breaking into an industry/field/area you’d really like to work in to that list as an incentive… there are definitely jobs I’d take a pay cut for just for their actual content!

    8. Peanut Hamper*

      I’m not quite sure why you think this is job hopping.

      But honestly, even if my current job is awful (and my last job was) I am not going to take a pay cut to get out of it (unless new job offers something like medical insurance that old job did not). My current job is good, I am respected and appreciated by everybody, but if something comes along that pays 10k more? I’m out of here.

      FWIW, it’s not the internet saying that you need to move jobs to get a better salary, it’s people’s lived experiences. Current job offers a $2k raise, but new job offers a salary that is +$10k? That’s easy math.

      I think that you should rethink your career strategies. It’s highly likely that you are being underpaid for what you do.

      Also, FWIW, jobs don’t “give” salaries. Your working conditions and compensation are business decisions, both for you and your potential employer. Don’t Stockholm syndrome yourself out of a better salary.

  14. Astronaut Barbie*

    If you’re threatening me with legal action for not paying what you want, I would be rescinding the original offer also.

  15. Ell*

    I just can’t imagine a scenario in which threatening legal action wouldn’t sever a relationship. Even if someone is well within their rights to report a company to a regulating body or sue them, they just can’t expect that they’re going to be able to maintain a relationship (much less start a job that isn’t even finalized yet).

    I also wanted to point out that taking three weeks from interview to offer isn’t unusual or problematic. It seems to me that detail was included to bolster the idea that this company is not acting reasonably, and I just don’t think that tracks.

    1. AnotherLibrarian*

      Yes, I agree. There’s no way this doesn’t cause the offer to be rescinded. Three weeks to get an offer seems normal enough to me (but then, I work in higher ed and we take forever, because the bureaucracy is so bananas). Nothing in this letter from the companies side seems to have been acting in bad faith- they made an offer, but once OP introduced their old salary, the employer asked the logical question. The OP is welcome to decline the offer due to salary or ask for more money, but threatening legal action is not likely to get the outcome they want.

  16. Database Developer Dude*

    Why the heck would you WANT to work somewhere where you’d have to threaten legal action to get a good offer? This is insane. This is more insane than the manager who wouldn’t give his employee off more than once every four years because her birthday was 2/29.

    1. londonedit*

      Can you imagine? Not only have you had to threaten them with lawyers just to get what you want, but you then have to start working for the company while being known as the person who threatened legal action to get a bigger salary. Is that really the look you want when you start a new job? It’s madness.

  17. Francine*

    People love to say they would sue a company but unless you are going to represent yourself you will not find a lawyer to take this on. Not even ambulance chasers are this stupid.

    OP, I would advise not jumping into legal action anytime you don’t get what you want.

    1. AFac*

      IANAL, but there are some pretty unscrupulous lawyers around, so I don’t know that *no* lawyer would take this on. But is that the kind of lawyer who the OP would want to represent them, and can the OP afford that kind of lawyer? It would probably cost more than the raise they’re trying to sue for.

    2. Irish Teacher.*

      My guess is that the LW had little or no intention of actually consulting a lawyer but that they were just hoping the threat would be enough to get the company to give them what they wanted.

      We had a neighbour who tried this. My brother simply googled, found out the law was 100% clearly on our side, quoted the law to her, at which point she assumed we had consulted a lawyer and she backed down. She didn’t expect to be dealing with a man in his 30s. She’d originally met my parents and I suspect she thought an older couple would be intimidated by the thought of potential legal action and would give in without checking the facts.

      I don’t think the LW is doing the exact same. I think the LW does believe the law at least might be on their side, but I don’t think they are expecting to go to the lengths of actually getting a lawyer involved, which I suspect wouldn’t result in a higher offer anyway. I think they are just hoping the company will “offer them a higher salary to keep them quiet.” Which honestly, I suspect would be pretty unlikely even if the company were in breach of the law, since I doubt the consequences would be so prohibitive that just the threat of legal action would get them to back down without even consulting a lawyer themselves.

  18. Jennifer Strange*

    I mean you certainly CAN do that, in that a person can threaten legal action for anything (whether or not it would even get heard in court is another matter). But think about what you stand to gain from that vs. what you stand to lose. Best case scenario you get the job at a better salary. Worst case scenario, you not only lose out on this job, but you might also gain a reputation for yourself (depending on how large your professional circle is this could really hurt your prospects going forward, not just at this company but other as well).

    It doesn’t really sound like the company did anything that wrong here. They offered you a salary that was lower than you wanted (without knowing more it’s hard to know if the salary is out of step with the role and if it should automatically be higher or not). You offered up your previous salary on your own. It’s fine if what they are offering you still isn’t what you’d like, but the best thing to do is politely decline the position (or take it knowing it’s not the salary you want).

  19. underhill*

    A question I was able to answer without reading the letter. Can you? Maybe. Should you? 1000% no

  20. NotSteamboatWillie*

    The minute you say “We don’t have to get lawyers involved..” They’ll get legal involved to protect themselves.
    The offer would get pulled.
    You want a better of tell what skills demand a higher offer.

    1. CityMouse*

      Yes, if someone threatens legal action at that point all communication goes through legal.

    1. Jennifer Strange*

      Oof, I had forgotten the friend works there (and maybe even recommended them). I definitely wouldn’t want to help them out in the future if they turned around and did that.

    2. Pretty as a Princess*

      Right? And if the friend got word of this behavior… I know I would ditch a “friend” who abused my reputation like this.

      Since the friend had insight into the interview, that makes me think they may be a part of the hiring team and might well have access to information like “We made an offer to Priscilla but she declined it and will not be eligible for future positions.” If I was the friend I’d go hunting down Priscilla to talk about what unfolded.

  21. Irish Teacher.*

    And honestly, in addition to what Alison said, would you want to work for somebody you essentially blackmailed? Even if they didn’t rescind the offer out of fear of being reported, you’d be working for people who would likely resent you and be distrustful of you (wondering what else you might try to use this to leverage).

    Think of how whistle-blowers often face retaliation, even when they are 100% in the right, so how much more retaliation might you face if you essentially said, “pay me more than is on the table to avoid me reporting you.”

    I really don’t think working for them would be very comfortable under those circumstances.

  22. HonorBox*

    OP, if they’re not offering what you’re hoping for in pay, you have two options. First, you can ask for more. Give them skills-related reasons to back that up. Second, find another opportunity.

    There is not a third option that includes legal action. Not only would it be a end to any potential relationship with this company, you’re not going to find anyone who would take your case.

  23. Miss Chanandler Bong*

    Aside from OP’s question, this is why I am a firm believer in companies disclosing salary up front. It avoids wasting everyone’s time if the salary expectations of the role don’t match the candidate’s expectations! It also benefits companies because if they aren’t getting the right candidates, then they know that they might need to adjust their budget on the salary to meet the market rate.

    RE: OP, don’t report them if you’re trying to negotiate working for them. Just, don’t.

  24. tjames*

    There aren’t many things you can say that are more Philadelphia than “we don’t have to get the lawyers involved.”

  25. Immortal for a limited time*

    It’s interesting this LW thinks that threatening a prospective employer would lead to a stronger offer. No, but it is a good way to ensure the original offer is withdrawn and the candidate is blackballed from future interviews at the same company, having tipped their hand at how – um – pleasant they would be to work with. Sometimes a job doesn’t pay as much as the candidate thinks it should and the candidate either respectfully negotiates a better one or passes on the opportunity. Period. Move on.

  26. Fluffy Fish*

    I’m absolutely gobsmacked this nuclear, adversarial, threatening approach would be the one you’d think was not only a good option but your first option.

    Did you even consider normal negotiation techniques?

    Look if a company is lowballing you – that tells you something about the company. Ask for more based on something – market rate, years of experience etc etc. whether they offer you more or not your only recourse at that point is to either accept the job or move on. Blackmail isn’t ever an option. Ever.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      Right? When did the choice go from “have a conversation in which you present your case for a higher salary” to “I think they lowballed me so I’m going to blackmail them”? I know negotiation conversations are challenging and can be very difficult for some, but this… this isn’t an easier option.

  27. Statler von Waldorf*

    I once asked my former boss, who is a lawyer, if there ever was a time when a client threatening legal action with no real intention of actually suing ever actually worked out for the client.

    She actually laughed out loud while shaking her head no.

    Threating a company with a lawsuit creates similar feelings as threating someone with a firearm, just without that pesky breaking the law aspect. There may be times when it’s the right choice to get you what you want, but you have to understand that you are almost always destroying the relationship. Just like you probably wouldn’t want to work for someone who pointed a gun at you, a company usually doesn’t want to work with someone who threatened it with a lawsuit.

  28. NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys*

    Don’t even think about threatening (bogus) legal action. Nobody with any sense or even a year or two’s experience in the working world would think this was a good idea. Speaking as a long-time manager (who actually once had an employee make the mistake of threatening legal action as a tactic when somebody they didn’t like was given a promotion instead of them), if you even mention this? Any career you might have had at that company is over, even if they didn’t pull the original offer (which is what I would do).

    The employee who threatened me with the (bogus) lawsuit found himself on the business end of a very well-documented (and very hard-to-meet PIP) for things, er…..TOTALLY unrelated to the threat. Didn’t work out well for them.

    Don’t put a target on your back for a few thousand dollars.

  29. Person from the Resume*

    TLDR: No LW. You negotiated and got exactly what you asked for. It’s all on you that you didn’t ask for the salary you really wanted when you were negotiating.

    I’m sorry that you don’t think quick on your feet, LW. I empathize with you, but … you are not negotiating from a position of strength.

    You are currently unemployed so the option of staying at your current job is not available to you; although, you can choose to pass on this one.

    But you also negotiated very badly. You told them you wanted your previous salary (not previous salary + $10K more) and they responded to exactly what you asked for and met your previous salary. You can tell them actually wanted more now, but telling them that will very likely exasperate them since that’s not how negotiating works.

    Also “I have experience now in a technology which my prior employer said they would have given me a higher title for if I had had that coming in.” I’d take this with a grain of salt; your old employer laid you off and could have given bigger raises before that if they wanted to; they didn’t. Them telling you this is just empty words. This company knows (or should know) that you have this experience, and they made you an low-ball offer and then negotiated with you to exactly what you asked for all the while knowing you have the experience.

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      And why assume this new company values that skill set? OP, you get paid for what the new company needs, not your former employer.

    2. ferrina*

      Exactly all of this.
      It sucks that LW botched this negotiation, but that is on LW, not the recruiter.
      I’m also wondering if LW’s expectations are in line with market value- the first thing I do in a job search is ensure that my expectations are in line with market value (it’s a great practice- last time I was job searching I was undervaluing myself by over 10k. but it also lets you know if you are going to price yourself out. which you can do, if you want to only make top salary, but don’t be surprised when your job search takes a lot longer).

    1. Chauncy Gardener*

      Without threatening to get lawyers involved? Really? Where’s the fun in that?
      *Sarcasm alert here*

  30. Radioactive Cyborg Llama*

    At the point this was written, the LW hadn’t even gotten a counteroffer based on her salary yet–she could have gone back and said she wanted to talk more about salary, because her prior salary was under market and have some research on that. Or at least mention the inflation thing and give the number she wanted. If there is still time to do that, she should.

  31. Czhorat*

    This feels like the approach of someone who watches too many movies. If the salary negotiation were in person I’d expect them to slide a piece of paper with number written on it across the table.

    Zoom has taken away yet another thing from us.

  32. ChiliHeeler*

    Noooooooo. I used to do employee side labor and employment law and I am still entirely gung-ho about protecting one’s rights. This will not end well, even if you had a viable case (which I’m not certain of you do based on the minimal detail in this letter). Alison have excellent advice here on how to handle this.

  33. TootSweet*

    I have to wonder if OP was backpedaling to avoid losing their Unemployment Compensation. PA does consider previous earnings when a job offer is refused. But if OP refused an offer at the same level as their previous salary, they could possibly lose their UC.

    1. MsM*

      All the more reason the company’s probably not going to take any legal threats too seriously, though.

      1. TootSweet*

        Exactly. And they would likely report any frivolous legal threat to UC, which means they’d lose that anyway. There are so many reasons that this would be a very bad move on OP’s part.

  34. Sean*

    LW got laid off, they don’t have the option of staying at their old job and continuing to receive their previous salary. Unless LW lied to this new company about being laid off, the new company has no reason to pay them more than they made previously.

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      I disagree with this, mostly because previous salary is not a great metric for a totally different company to use when paying someone. And also because when I was laid off and job searching, I was very clear about my target salary– which was a 30% jump from my previous job, and I based on that on my qualifications and the market. Just because someone isn’t working doesn’t mean they don’t deserve market salary.

      1. GythaOgden*

        Market salary is what someone will pay you. For 30% increase you’d probably be looking for something that was a step up or on a pretty low wage to begin with. If OP’s target job here was at her current level of experience and qualifications, then the salary might be similar or lower depending on company budget.

        (I mean technically I got a 30% raise when I started my new job and I am feeling the difference in my household budget. However, I stayed at my current pay band in the UK civil service, but only went from part time (25 hours or 2/3 time) to full time (37.5). Yup, I do think I deserve a bit more of a raise than that but I also know that public sector wages are set in stone by the government and I also kept my generous sick leave and holiday allowance, which is worth a LOT to me. I also have a weird financial situation which means I can’t say I’m typical of the average British household.)

  35. EmmaPoet*

    The moment you threaten to get lawyers involved, they’re going to send all of this to their legal department. Even if you do get hired, and they might very well end up pulling the offer at that point, you’re going to be remembered as “the person who threatened us to get more money before we ever hired them,” and that will never go away.

  36. Michelle Smith*

    I wouldn’t expect them to come back and say the offer is firm. I’d expect them to come back and say that the offer has been withdrawn and you are now on the do-not-hire list at that company.

  37. Stripes*

    Aside from the Philly-specific question, I’m just kind of stunned at the ‘I was laid off and want to be making a lot more than what I was making’ side of this letter.
    Sincerely, Unemployed who would love a job offer equal to or within $15k of my last job…

    1. Escapee from Corporate Management*

      Yup. OP, you’re unemployed and someone offered you a job. That’s a GOOD thing. Not offering you $10k over your previous salary does not make this a bad thing. Threatening to sue them because of your own mistake makes this a bad thing…but not for them. Only for you.

  38. New Jack Karyn*

    IANAL, but I think this would be extortion and not blackmail. Although I’m not sure it would meet all the required elements of either (not being a lawyer and all).

    1. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      Well, I got curious and looked it up. Extortion involves coercion, usually threat of violence. Blackmail is about threatening to tell a secret. So this is maaaaybe extortion.

      1. Kevin Sours*

        Probably not. Threatening to enforce your legal rights isn’t extortion even if you do so in a skeevy way. And being unsure of or generously interpreting the law in your favor probably don’t get to the intent required. That said, such a threat is going to come across as deeply unserious and will prompt all further communication to be made with the legal department via physical mail. Especially if the person threatening isn’t represented.

        1. A.K. Climpson*

          This answer really depends on the framing of the threat and the various statutes involved, which is another reason not to do anything like this. (All this is also state dependent and not legal advice.)

          But generally, you’re right that threatening to do something you have a legal right to do is okay, in that you can say “you owe me X, and if you don’t pay me, I’ll sue you to get it.” But threatening to report a violation unless paid is different and quite possibly extortion–the quintessential example being “I know you robbed a bank, and if you don’t pay me, I’ll report you to the cops.” It sounds like the OP is thinking of this as the first situation (“I’ll get a lawyer”) and if they are seeking damages they think they are owed, it may be fine; but if the law only provides a way to report violations, not a way for individuals to sue, it could tilt toward an attempt to get money in exchange for not reporting.

  39. Raisin Walking to the Moon*

    Y’all, this is such a Philly way to handle things. Like, I know Alison is right and I DO NOT think this is a good idea…
    It’s so Philly.

  40. Buffalo*

    Three things.

    1. Not every salary offer that’s lower than what you used to make is necessarily a “lowball”. If Lebron James wanted to become a kindergarten teacher tomorrow (and I think we all agree that he should), they’re not going to match his past salary.

    2. As Alison says, in some cases, a person who’s quick to stand up for their rights is going to be unfairly labelled overly adversarial. But if someone ever said to me, “We don’t have to get lawyers involved and let your manager know, if..”, I wouldn’t hire them – not because they stood up for their rights, but because they talked to me like this is a bad mob movie.

    3. Maybe I’m just an anxious weirdo, but I personally could never thrive in an environment where I got the job by threatening the boss. I’d constantly be terrified and waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    1. Czhorat*

      Lebron James never went to college. I don’t think he’s qualified to be a kindergarten teacher, at least on paper.

      He’d probably be great at it, but there are usually required degrees.

        1. RedinSC*

          We would totally pay you $80bajillion dollars to teach kinder, but sadly, you didn’t get a college degree. We can only pay your $32K/year now.

  41. Philly Recruiter*

    I’m a recruiter, and this just isn’t going to get you what you want. I had someone a few months ago threaten legal action against me/my company for allegedly discriminating against her as a military wife, ( I actually just told her that she wouldn’t be able to take her second week off of training because of his coming home, and that this role/start date would not work if she absolutely needed that week.) Once she threatened the legal action, I forwarded her email to legal and told her she was no longer being considered, and that there was no further reason for us to communicate. Every recruiter in our division was informed not to consider her for any position, ever, and even though she continued to apply, no one ever reached out to her again for an interview. For weeks, she sent me email after email, and I didn’t respond (I had already told her I wouldn’t). Once you threaten legal action, you’re going to get iced out and referred to the lawyers. Every Time.

    This is a rough job market, and sometimes that prompts people to make decisions they otherwise might not make, or come to regret later, as this person did. But no one likes legal threats, and as soon as you do this, you become the hostile person no one wants to deal with. And in this case, when you don’t yet work for the company, it’s even easier for them to decline to deal with you. I know it’s frustrating to feel you have no power in the process, but responding to it this way is just not going to make them reconsider.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Yep – pulling a stunt like that will get you blackballed immediately. So will threatening legal action in order to blackmail / extort a recruiter (particularly when you have no legal standing to do so).

      If the OP does something that stupid – AND UNETHICAL – they can expect their offer to be rescinded so fast, their head will spin.

  42. Nonrestrictive Clause*

    “But after the final interview it took three whole weeks to get an offer” from the OP’s note really stuck out to me. It’s taken me MUCH longer to get an offer! I hope OP was still interviewing during that time, but have the feeling that their hopes were way too pinned on this 1 offer.

    1. Person from the Resume*

      This is an additional comment in the letter that makes me think this LW is young, naïve, or simply an experienced job hunter. This is not a crazy long amount of time or mark against the company; although, I can attest it feels like a long time when you’re waiting.

  43. Ess Ess*

    Wow… “Give me more money or I will turn you in” is blatant extortion. I can guarantee no employer will want to work with you when you start your relationship with them like that.

  44. Also Unemployed*

    Hey, OP. I’m also unemployed and have taken a different approach. When asked for my target salary, I give employers a number about 10% below my last salary. Why? Because I need a job, was near the top of the salary scale at my last company, I haven’t built up credibility with this new potential employer, my skills are often not a perfect match for the new job, and again, because I’M UNEMPLOYED AND HAVE NO LEVERAGE.

    Why haven’t I taken your approach? Simple. A salary $10,000 below my last one is far better than no salary, a ruined reputation, and no job prospects because I did something stupid.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      From a recruiter perspective – it’s fine to tell recruiters where you were actually at and to tell them you have some flexibility for the right role. Don’t undersell yourself! We don’t want you to be lowballed. We want to fill the job, but we also want our candidates to stay in the role and be happy. If you let yourself be lowballed, you’ll be more likely to take another role that does compensate you fairly.

  45. Random Dice*

    The best thing I can say about this LW is that at least they put the TL;DR at the front instead of at the bottom.

    Why do people put TL;DR at the bottom? It’s TOO LONG TO READ!

  46. Sunflower*

    Wow. Either report them to the appropriate labor department or don’t, but it sounds more illegal and definitely less ethical to threaten them for more money than their lapse in judgement. *You* were the one who brought up your current salary in the first place. You claim you’re not fast on your feet but they probably didn’t catch themselves in time either.

    And if you got the job due to threats, do you think they won’t make your work life hell?

  47. Tea*

    “All that said, if you think they violated the law, by all means report them to the agency charged with handling it! ”
    Philly person here. This is good advice but the letter writer definitely needs to know right now that reporting anything won’t go anywhere. If they’re at all familiar with the city, they should already know this.

  48. Maggie*

    People often consider “threatening legal action” to get what they want. Customers at my previous job threatened legal action all the time. They would say we were “in breach of contract” because something shipped a day later than its estimated date. Or that we engaged in “false advertising” when we advertised a price range and what they wanted happened to be at the top of that range. Those are just random examples. What I’m getting at is, I don’t know why people think “threatening legal action” or saying “I’ll consult a lawyer” is meaningful. It isn’t. And anyone who immediately gives into a demand because someone threatens that isn’t thinking. We had an employee threatening to sue us for firing them. We didn’t say oh gosh well now we have keep them on. We said “you’re being fired for X reason, it’s documented, and this decision stands”. Eventually we were like ok, consider us advised that you’re “suing us”. Threatening legal action only really works if the person you’re threatening isn’t thinking soundly, or you actually have a solid case and the means to obtain a lawyer.

  49. NameRequired*

    This HAS to be a fake letter. MAYBE if the OP was fresh out of school and completely unfamiliar with professional norms and maturity and had perhaps lived in an Amish closet for most of his/her life, I could see asking this. BUT someone who’s been in the work force and knows about ‘total compensation’ etc.. simply can’t be clueless or naive enough to ask this question….right?

  50. Chauncy Gardener*

    Is this the same person as the friend in the previous post? Or is there just a rash of bad candidate behavior going around?

  51. Llama Llama*

    How was the company reasonably supposed to negotiate what salary this person wanted? They cannot magically guess that salary to at least match it. Maybe they could say ‘Well what salty were you looking for?’ but if that’s in response to ‘ That doesn’t even match my original salary’ it asking that question anyway!

  52. I Have RBF*

    Repeat after me: Threatening a lawsuit is not a way to get a job offer.

    Lawsuits, demand letters, etc and threats thereof are for after the relationship has turned adversarial, not as a negotiating tactic, IMO.

    I own a really tiny business. If someone decided that I must hire them, and at a certain rate, then threatened to sue me if I didn’t hire them? I would laugh my ass off, because there is no job available at that rate, and they have no ability under the law to demand that I hire them.

    Would you want to work somewhere where you sued them to hire you?

    IIRC, this is why most workplace lawsuits are for damages and only occasionally reinstatement, and I haven’t ever heard of one to get hired at a higher salary. But IANAL, and law is strange.

  53. Not an expert*

    Crazy idea…ask for the salary you’re hoping for. At most, tack on some $ in case they counter. Leave the rest of the games out of it.

  54. Brain the Brian*

    Threatening to use a law that’s not even applicable in the company’s location to sue them over something the law doesn’t even prohibit anyway would be such stunningly poor judgment that it’s like to cause the company to pull the offer. LW, don’t do it.

  55. Tiger Snake*

    I don’t even get how LW expects this one to work; she was the one who brought up her previous salary, not the company.

    We’re basically saying “because I changed my mind on how much I asked for in my salary negotiation, I’m going to sue you.” I just plain don’t understand how we even get that idea?

  56. All het up about it*

    To paraphrase the great Ian Malcolm: you are so preoccupied with whether or not you CAN, that you didn’t stop to think if you SHOULD.

  57. Dorothy Zpornak*

    “The initial offer was less than I had been making at my previous job and I made the mistake of saying it like that. The in-house recruiter asked what I was making and I am bad at thinking on my feet, so I told her… I didn’t give a number for what I’m looking for. The recruiter ran off to get a new number based on my history.”

    So, to be clear, you gave them your previous salary as your benchmark, did not ask for any other number, and now you want to threaten them because… they gave you what you asked for????

    To be even clearer, you told them the wrong number because you are “bad at thinking on [your] feet”? You were thinking on your feet because…you didn’t come prepared to discuss what salary you would need to accept the offer… in the conversation where they were offering you a job??? And for further clarity, “after the final interview it took three whole weeks to get an offer.” In those three weeks, you didn’t have time to consider what you would say if they asked about salary requirements???

  58. RedinSC*

    I just had a conversation about salary with a temp employee where I work. She was just offered a job and wanted to negotiate. YES! DO.

    And she said she was going to tell them at her current job she’s earning X.

    I mentioned that this isn’t a compelling reason to give you a higher salary. She needed to talk about the skills and knowledge she’s bringing in that makes her more valuable than the N they offered.

    Each job is different, explain the skills you have from this job and how that will make you that much more productive in the job they offered, and THAT’S why they should pay you more.

  59. Sleve*

    Can I use the threat of legal action to negotiate a better offer?

    You can. You absolutely can. You can also pick your nose and wipe it on the carpet to negotiate a better offer. They’re both about equally likely to be successful. Do as you will.

  60. Confused Brit*

    Brit here, I’m utterly baffled that this is even a thing! if the salary isn’t what you want either negotiate that if and when you are offered a position or don’t take the job!?

    1. Sunflower*

      It’s not a thing in the US either. We do not blackmail or threaten to sue if the interviewer made a mistake of asking a forbidden question. We may report them to the labor department or something official, or even blast them on social media, but like all the other posts say, this is blackmail and what the OP is thinking of doing is much worst than the “crime.”

  61. Escapee from Corporate Management*

    OP, I’ve taken more time to think about this. I urge you to ask yourself these questions:

    • Do I immediately blame others when you make a mistake? You’re doing so here, since you were the one who brought up your previous salary.

    • Do I always treat other people as opponents? Think of the language you are using: “lowball”, threats, making you wait (an entirely reasonable) three weeks for the offer. These people are not your enemies, but you describe them that way.

    • Do people tell me that I jump to conclusions without getting all of the facts? You did so here (Philly laws applying outside of jurisdiction, bringing up a salary and then saying they ask follow-ups, the original salary offer must be a lowball). You could have addressed any one of these by asking an expert, which you didn’t.

    • Are my reactions so emotional that they appear irrational? That’s what you’re doing in this situation.

    I ask these questions because they say much about how you handle stress—and how it will hurt your career. The company has done nothing wrong, yet you assume bad faith, apply bad law, and are about to make idle threats that will likely ruin your reputation (and that of the friend who recommended you). Not only should you not make threats, you should start self-reflecting. That will be far more beneficial than the course of action you are considering.

  62. Database Developer Dude*

    I asked ChatGPT “On a scale of 1 to 10, how insane would it be to threaten legal action to get a better job offer”. ChatGPT’s answer is that it would be a 9 or 10…….and basically said the same things a lot of you (including Alison) are saying here.

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