Job Description was very wrong. Any recourse?

Question: I was offered a job, and told specifics about this job – including no travel and I didn’t need any product knowledge. After two months on the job, it turns out that the Hiring Manager either lied or was just unaware: both travel and product knowledge are required. The Hiring Manager knew that I would not have taken the job if those two conditions were there. Any recourse?

Chris,
San Francisco

Answer: Legally speaking, assuming you have no employment contract (and very few people do), there is no recourse available to you. The reason for this is that courts in almost every state view your situation this way: As an “at will” employee (that is, one who could be terminated at any time), you could quit on any day, and you could be fired on any day. Therefore, your employer has the right to change your job description on any day, and you could accept it, or quit, on any day. That is, in effect what happened to you. This reasoning applies both to where a Hiring Director made a mistake, and to where a Hiring Director has been intentionally dishonest.

That reasoning even applies to your salary: on any day, your employer could say, “Starting tomorrow, you will be making minimum wage per hour. Would you like to stay, or would you like to quit?”

However, you have every legal right to make a respectful complaint to your employer’s HR Director, CEO, owners, or Board of Directors, outlining what happened, what difficulty or damage this has caused you, and to ask the company to assist you for that reason. It is not a legal recourse, but a kind of moral recourse. It shouldn’t be overlooked, because it often works.

Sorry I couldn’t help you more. At least now you know “where you are.”

Best, Al Sklover

P.S.: Prevent problems early; and preferably before they happen. Consider our Model Letter Confirming Basic Terms of Job Offer. It shows you “What to Say, and How to Say It.™” To obtain a copy, just [click here.] Delivered by Email – Instantly!

© 2009 Alan L. Sklover, All Rights Reserved.