Is my employer required to honor promises made in writing on job offer letters?

My job offer letter indicated that I was supposed to receive a review on July 17th, 2008. It is now August 3rd, 2009 and I have yet to receive my review despite my attempts at reminding my employer of the offer letter. If my employer has not honored this agreement, am I required to honor any other agreements that I have made with them? For example am I required to comply with non-competition agreements or employee handbook agreements (such as being required to work up to 3 additional hours each day or not working a second job)?

1 answer  |  asked Aug 3, 2009 4:33 PM [EST]  |  applies to Massachusetts

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
The first issue is whether the offer letter and all of its terms, once accepted, became a binding contract. If so, the next question is the duration of the agreement. Unless otherwise stated, the agreement is at-will, meaning either party could change its terms at any time. Thus, if the offer and acceptance created a contract, it was probably at-will such that the employer could change any of its terms.

If the employer entered into an agreement to which it is still bound (i.e., the agreement is not at-will), then the next question is whether that breach will excuse you from your performance of obligations. This is an issue of state law for which you will need the opinion of a Massachusetts attorney. As a general rule, however, a breach by on party must be "material", meaning that it goes to the essence of the bargain, before the non-breaching party can elect to rescind the agreement. In this case, a two week or even longer delay in delivering a performance review is probably not a material breach of an employment agreement. That is, check with Massachusetts counsel before you disregard your non-compete based on this breach.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Aug 4, 2009 1:56 PM [EST]

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