Academic Job Dilemma: My PI screwing me over?
May 11, 2014 10:48 PM Subscribe
I have a staff position in academic research. I received a verbal job offer two and a half weeks ago for a higher position in a different lab, and I gave notice to my current PI (my boss) immediately. I haven't gotten the official job offer yet, and I think my PI might cause me to lose the offer... Also, I'm kind of just freaked out in general and need some fresh eyes. Am I freaking over nothing, or is trouble brewing here?
posted by your mom's a sock puppet to Work & Money (14 answers total)
Two and a half weeks ago, I received a very explicit verbal job offer from new PI (i.e. he literally said "I am offering you this job" and I said "I accept!"). A few days after that, via email, he told me that he had been in contact with HR and spoke about salary and everything. He said that HR needed to check on some things about salary (to see what it would be since I am transitioning within the university) and that they would have to get back to him before he could give an official offer letter. He was also not sure of when his current staff person was leaving so he could not tell me when he would need me to start, though it would probably would be mid-June ish. This convo last up until two weeks ago. Two Fridays ago, I sent him an email asking him if he had an end date from his staff person, and he responded the same day that he would check in with her. That's the last we communicated.
My current PI does not want to accept anything less than 10 weeks notice for my leaving the lab. The reasoning for this is completely his fault, as he failed to hire additional staff (despite many, many reminders that it was necessary to do so) after my TWO former colleagues left one after the other a year and a half ago, leaving me to do the job of three people by myself since (basically) July 2012. I would like to give something more like 6 weeks; I gave notice on the April 26th and would like to start either June 9th or 16th. HOWEVER, without a start date from new PI, I cannot really give current PI a hard date. We are actually hiring someone who will be starting this month, so I'm not screwing him over with these dates at all. I HAVE made it clear to both of them that 10 weeks would not work, mind you, and that I would not let this get in the way of the new job.
I ALSO KNOW that my current and new PIs have communicated about my "transition" to the new PI's lab, and knowing that my current PI doesn't want me leaving until at least July, I'm wondering if current PI communicated this to new PI and if it's turned the deal sour for me. Current PI is tenured and full professor and new PI is associate and (I think) still trying to get tenure, so the situation is very delicate and my current PI is powerful in the department. Despite the fact that I'd like to have control over my own work life, including when I can leave my job, it's become clear that I do not! I've also heard that revoking a verbal job offer in academia is virtually unheard of in academia. I'm at a loss as to what's going on. I can't imagine why new PI would take so long giving me an end date for his current staff person, or how the current staff person wouldn't know this information. I'm suspicious that I'm getting pushed off... MEEP!
I would be devastated if my boss screwed me over here, as this is a dream job for me and a step in the right direction in so many ways. I need his recommendation for basically anything I do form here on out (most likely, anyway), but I am not staying in my current lab even if this new job falls through. I'm currently over-worked and my health is not doing so well because of it, and this job is no longer benefitting me at all. Tomorrow, I plan to drop a line to new PI to check in again (too soon?) to see if I can come to his lab meetings (or if there's anything else I can do) and also see if he has an end date. Is this timeframe or even this situation normal? Am I freaking out over nothing, or do you think I have a problem?
And a panic question: is this even legal? Would I have grounds for some kind of case against my current PI for screwing up this job opportunity by essentially intimidating/bullying my "new" PI into not hiring me? This new job is important to me and my future career. Needless to say, I'm anxious and emotional about it.
Anything you can offer is helpful, and I'm happy to answer questions. Thanks!