What can I do if employer rescinded job offer with no warning?
September 1, 2021 5:46 PM   Subscribe

Employer in California offered me a part time position, verbal contract with emails confirming this. I waited for 1.5 months, procuring multiple certifications/verifications in preparation.

One verification was expensive and I was moving house, so I warned the employer I would need to wait a bit until I had enough money. They were supportive and even offered moving assistance. Fast forward, I finish the verification and ask about my start date, at which point I’m told the job was given to someone else because my verification was delayed. But they never told me that the delay was jeopardizing my job opportunity.

This financially devastated me for a month, and after all this stress, now I see that they’ve relisted the job after all. What can I do to prevent this from happening to anyone else? And is there any way I can be compensated for the loss of income in a situation like this?
posted by hot_tea to Work & Money (13 answers total)
A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it is written on. In the USA, most all employment can be terminated by either employer or employee with minimal notice - usually none at all - including before employment even starts.

What can I do to prevent this from happening to anyone else?

Probably nothing. A company that does such things is not the sort of company that will voluntarily stop without being sued. Suing this company will not likely be worth your time or money.

And is there any way I can be compensated for the loss of income in a situation like this?

Probably not. A company that does such things is not the sort of company that will voluntarily compensate you without being sued. Suing this company will not likely be worth your time or money.

In the future, get contracts in writing, and never pay for certifications/verifications with your own money.
posted by saeculorum at 5:59 PM on September 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

well, there's glassdoor, which is supposed to be a forum for reviewing employers. I don't know if that company is big enough to be listed there. I'm so sorry this happened to you.
posted by fingersandtoes at 6:00 PM on September 1, 2021 [6 favorites]

Response by poster: Fwiw, they reimbursed me for everything after the fact. It’s sounding like that’s the best outcome I could hope for. Thank you for the clarity and support. And yes, am posting this on Glassdoor.
posted by hot_tea at 6:04 PM on September 1, 2021 [15 favorites]

It's my impression that oral contracts are still contracts. The problem is that they are often completely undocumented, but you have the documentation of the e-mail messages you mentioned.

It's at least calling a couple or three employment lawyers. Ask them! Don't make important decisions based ONLY on random internet free advice from laypeople :)

You did suffer real damages because you had an agreement -- a real agreement -- that the other party backed out of without any kind of notice. If they were going to terminate your employment, I think they at least would have had to give you some kind of notice, depending on the expectations of the field, maybe the terms of their usual contracts, and of course whatever laws apply in that jurisdiction.

In short, Metafilter is not a complete research solution :)
posted by amtho at 6:35 PM on September 1, 2021 [11 favorites]

I guess the question here is... if they relisted the same job, maybe you can just outright ask your prior contact that can you have the job, saving them a lot of paperwork and time breaking in a new candidate?

What's the worst that can happen? They refuse, and you've lost nothing.
posted by kschang at 7:09 PM on September 1, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'm not so sure that they did anything wrong -- given that they reimbursed you for everything, one possible interpretation is that they were operating in good faith and may actually have wound up thinking that you had ghosted until you came back with the verification in hand.

I agree with kschang that it might be worth reaching out to them about the re-advertised vacancy -- there's a chance that their response will clarify things for you, and you can decide then if you'd actually want to work for them.

Simply on expected hassle and pain vs. any plausible payoff, I wouldn't pursue the legal route.
posted by Metasyntactic at 7:28 PM on September 1, 2021 [4 favorites]

Wouldnt think part time employment needs a four to six week salary verification process. Or an employment chronology. They probably assumed you lost interest.
posted by The_imp_inimpossible at 8:30 PM on September 1, 2021

So employment in general is at will, meaning they can fire you at any time for any reason that isn't related to something legally protected, e.g., discrimination. Given that, I don't see any legal recourse for having an offer rescinded for a job you haven't started yet.

Something similar happened to me once, and I know this is hard and really sucks. But ultimately, there probably isn't anything you can do aside from a Glassdoor review - and you may want to think a bit before you decide to burn that particular bridge.
posted by FencingGal at 9:20 AM on September 2, 2021 [1 favorite]

Reiterating that you should reach out to one of your contacts and ask about the newly reposted position immediately, and possibly also (but not only) just go ahead and resubmit an application through those channels in case your contact has incomplete information about the situation.

You might learn the position was reposted in error -- or, worst case scenario, you might learn they had other reasons for not hiring you after all -- but you should definitely find out before burning any bridges with a negative Glassdoor review.
posted by nobody at 10:13 AM on September 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: For those who seem to be uncertain about whether the company may have thought I ghosted or lost interest: I was in regular contact with the manager, who is also the owner of the business and is the only one in charge of hiring staff, and she was kept regularly aware of how long the verifications and certifications were taking.

They weren’t “salary verifications,” but this was a special type of job which requires multiple stages of legal clearance and trainings before an employee is allowed to work. She plainly neglected to warn me that the delay could cost me the job, while I was communicating with her and keeping her updated multiple times per week about both the delay and how excited I was to start. She understood there would be a delay due to my moving house, and even offered me support in moving by saying she could help me find an apartment. So she was fully aware that I wanted to work there and that there would be a delay, and she never indicated an issue with this. She then rescinded the offer once I was prepared to start work.

I have since contacted her about the job listing, and she apologized for her communication issues — this is a small business and she is very new to management and hiring, so it was simply negligence on her part due to inexperience. She has not only offered me the job again, but a rent-free apartment (which is surprising and potentially concerning considering how she’s been shown to handle agreements/contracts). In a sum, she messed up and she knows it, and is trying to make it right.

So I am unlikely to pursue legal action against her, simply because of the hassle and also because I think she’s in a vulnerable position and trying to make it up to me. But thank you for the levelheaded perspective on the best course forward.

Hope this clarifies!
posted by hot_tea at 7:19 PM on September 2, 2021 [3 favorites]

That's great news!
posted by Anonymous at 7:24 PM on September 2, 2021

Hey, that's great! (But also, in case it affects how you talk about this with her in the future: the likelihood that you had any reasonable legal action to take was very slim, unless you could show that you were discriminated against for being a member of a protected class. In any case, it sounds like you've found yourself a truly kind employer, but it also sounds like it's worth using this free rent opportunity to save up at least enough money to afford moving again, since this new apartment's probably contingent upon everything going perfectly at work. And -- one last piece of unasked-for advice: it's probably a good idea to never let your new boss know that you were ever considering legal action against her! Which means either being careful to never let her see your username here or -- maybe better, just in case -- asking the mods to anonymize this question.)
posted by nobody at 4:44 AM on September 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! Fwiw, she already knows that I was researching possible legal action against her, so I’m not going to anonymize this question. Nothing to fear other than the possibility of getting my life further involved with someone who may not be trustworthy, even if innocently so. I’ve already signed a long term contract for the place I moved into and really like it here. Hmm...
posted by hot_tea at 7:33 AM on September 3, 2021 [1 favorite]

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