Is a verbal agreement between a CEO and an employee of the company binding?

I am on an international training that will benefit the company. I discussed it with my CEO severally and he agreed to pay me a portion of my salary and for me to work part time. Also, he asked me to put it in writing which I did. He just never sent me a return email confirming. He has now reneged, and has told HR that he never approved the training. He informed HR prior to that time, but she claims he did not give her any detailed information. I am employed in New York. Is this a breach of agreement? Do I have any remedies? Is this enforceable?

1 answer  |  asked Sep 12, 2016 1:41 PM [EST]  |  applies to New York

Answers (1)

V Jonas Urba
It depends. You did not reference any time period. What is part time? How much were you to be reimbursed? If too much was not defined it could be difficult to prove. It will also depend highly on what the value of the contract is? As you probably know smaller dollar contracts are simply not worth pursuing.

New York generally does not enforce employment agreements unless they are for a fixed term. If I agree to hire you from Sept. 12 2016 until Sept 12 2017 agreeing to pay you a million dollars and you can prove that we made the agreement - verbal or written it may be enforceable. Has to be for a term certain. Time, place of performance, parties, consideration (how much, not indefinite value - currency, exchange rate, interest, etc... the more vague the less likely to be enforceable).

Statute of Frauds is a common law concept which states that if a contract can not be performed within 1 year it shall be in writing to be enforceable. If memory serves me there are at least 4 exceptions. Promise to marry, promise to pay the debts of another person, purchase of real estate..... must be in writing or not enforceable.

Your facts need to be analyzed with a labor and employment lawyer. How much time lapsed between the e-mail being transmitted and you discovering there is no deal, did you rely on it and incur expenses that he knew or would have known about, did you perform services which you have not been paid for, were you an at will employee to begin with will be very important because if your status did not change at will employees need no reason or notice, etc.....

Bottom line - what you do will make a big difference in how any agreement is evaluated.

A brain surgeon working in an underprivileged country expecting to have a seminar compensated will be viewed much differently from a scuba instructor learning about spear fishing in Aruba. And the expectations and planning for each will be much different.

If enforceable your remedy will be to be made whole, whatever that is or means based on your particular facts.

posted by V Jonas Urba  |  Sep 12, 2016 5:54 PM [EST]

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