Published on April 20th, 2010 by Alan L Sklover
Question: Hi, Alan. I was wondering if withdrawing a job offer in Washington State – after the applicant received and accepted the written offer, and quit his first job in order to start at this new place – was legal or not?
Is there anything that can be done to protect the applicant who is now unemployed as a result?
Is there any recourse?
Answer: Hello, Katerina. Your question is one that I am hearing more and more. Usually, I get a frantic phone call, or an emergency email, from a client who is in this exact situation. It’s such a common and harmful situation that I’ve decided to devote an upcoming monthly newsletter and video to the subject.
As most of my readers know, I am licensed to practice law only in New York, so can’t really give out legal advice on the law in other states or countries. However, I can and do assist people worldwide, and so I am able to briefly review the law in most states, and report what I have found.
My research today suggests that the law in Washington State seems less helpful to employees in this situation than is the law in many other states. In Washington State the general rule seems to be the following:
For the employee (whose job offer was withdrawn) to have any legal recourse, at least one of the following three facts must have existed at the time the job offer was withdrawn:
(1) Fraud About Facts by Employer: when the job offer was made, and accepted, the employer lied about facts then in existence, such as having no plans for layoffs when, in fact, there were definite plans for layoffs at that time; or
(2) Agreement for Specified Term: there was an agreement that the offered employment would continue for a specified period of time, such as six months or one year; or
(3) Withdrawal for Improper Reason(s): the reason the job offer was withdrawn was an improper one, such as the employer first learning after the job offer was made, that the employee was pregnant, or of a certain age, race, religion, disability, etc.
If one or more of these three elements is present in your circumstances, then you may have an avenue of legal recourse against your “almost’ employer. If not, you probably have no legal recourse. If you find one or more of these elements in your facts, events and circumstances, I think you should seek a consultation with an experienced employment attorney in your area.
Remember, too, that legal recourse is not the only kind of recourse there is. You may appeal directly to the company’s chief executive, or even to the Members of its Board of Directors, and lay out your case, in respectful fashion, for the company’s taking some responsibility for the difficulties and damages it caused to you and your family. I hope this has been helpful. Look for my upcoming Newsletter and Video on this subject.
My Best to You,
© 2010 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.