If employer have an intention of hiring you, and you quit your previous job, can you sue?

I was offered a job and was to start on Jan 16th. On the morning of that day, my employer assistance called and told me not to come in, but that my employer will call me later that day. NO word whatsoever, I called down to his other office in another area of CA that day, and ask to speak to him. Another assistance said that he will call me back asap. Not one word, I emailed him on Jan 18th and express my concerns, he said he would call me back. again nothing. Emailed again on Jan 24th, telling him my concerns, again nothing. He gave me a schedule and said I was suppose to start at the beginning of Jan. but the background check and drug test, took a while longer, so we agree mid Jan, which I was fine with. Now, he gave me an offer letter, he send me a schedule to come in starting mid Jan. I know that past record and drug test should all check out fine. Everytime, I tried to contact him, he says he is tied up with finishing up a business transaction, or something came up in his personal life. Is that ground for lawsuit? Is this a claim for promissory estoppel?

1 answer  |  asked Mar 8, 2012 08:59 AM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (1)

Marilynn Mika Spencer
*** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on this web site as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. A web site such as this is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis for many reasons, including that the communication is not private. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

You may have a claim for promissory estoppel, a legal doctrine that many states recognize. Promissory estoppel allows a court to enforce a promise in the interest of justice if all of the following elements are present:

-- one party makes a gratuitous promise to another (that is, a promise it was not required to make); AND

-- a second party changes its position, circumstances or actions in reliance on that promise; AND

-- that reliance was reasonable; AND

-- the second party was harmed due to its changed position, circumstances or actions.

Note this in this case, the court is enforcing the promise, not enforcing a contract.

Terms in an offer letter may make a difference. For example, the letter may contain "waffle words," such as "The employer can withdraw this offer at any time" or "This offer does not guarantee employment," or other similar language.

The interactions between the parties are also significant. It is helpful if there are written communications, such as e-mail messages, that show the employer knew you were relying on the promise. For example, if you told the employer that you were resigning your other job, relocating, or making other changes in your life because of your pending employment with the employer, these communications would support a claim for promissory estoppel.

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer
The Spencer Law Firm
2727 Camino del Rio South, Suite 140
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 233-1313 telephone // (619) 296-1313 facsimile

posted by Marilynn Mika Spencer  |  Mar 11, 2012 11:36 AM [EST]

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