This sounds weird. If a candidate is offered the job and given a start date did the company send an offer letter with salary, and start date etc, signed by them to the candidate or to you to be sent to your candidate? If you or the candidate did not get a written offer letter to be countersigned by the candidate and returned why would they quit a job? Or think that they had a formal offer if it were just verbal?
Was this a situation where a hiring manager said they would like to offer the candidate the job, asked for a start date then went to HR to get it approved?
Did the candidate receive a corrected letter with delayed start date or was this just through the recruiter?
Did the candidate try to contact the company direct? Seems like to me if he had recieved an offer letter that he accepted he then is in a position to contact their HR department direct or the hiring manager if the recruiter is able to contact the company. I agree that it is a very shoddy practice to do a disappearing act without a written notification of rescind. If it were my candidate i would find somebody in that company that would take a call if i had to start with the janitor and work up to the chairman of the board. :)
The Big 4 have rescinded job offers this year in some cases and have also delayed start dates and changed starting salary offers but the "new hires" received letters letting them know that due to whatever circumstance their start date had been delayed, the salary would not be what they had originally been offered but that prior to the start date they would be notified of the new approved salary.
Not sure how one can require a client company to act in good faith..written and verbal agreements can be cast aside, especially with candidates and recruiters.. after all we're like buses right? - miss one, another will come along.
Things like this happen, and it happened to me once.. I just do my damndest to make sure my candidate has more than one client of mine to interview with..the first client to move quickly and follow through wins.
Maybe the best thing to do is to find out who the final authority is on the whole deal before the "final interview", and not consider anything to be official until that person signs the offer sheet.
the above scenario reminds me of the old story about dealing with the dancing monkey, and not the organ grinder. We should always know who's calling the tune. Maybe this resulted from the recruiter doing an end run around HR, and HR is punishing everyone.. just thinking out loud.
As far as taking "unintended consequences" if my client acts in bad faith, I don't set the stage for those by positioning myself as "working exclusively for the client company"..I make no bones about being a middleman trying to help make an opportunity happen, if it's meant to happen..both sides know how hard i work for them, and as such, they've never held me responsible when one side drops the ball.