Can an employer hire someone else after agreeing to hire me, at specific salary and specific start date.

On Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, I was offered 80,000 a year to be the Executive Chef at a restaurant in New Jersey. The verbal offer came at the end of a successful “tasting� I did for the G.M, two of the owners and a consultant who worked for

the owners. I accepted the job and we agreed that I would start today -10/8/2018.The needed someone right away and I was able to accommodate them. I moved to a motel near the restaurant yesterday, Sunday. The General Manager of the restaurant called me this morning and told me that they had decided to give the job to a chef they had previously interviewed. I was dumbstruck and I had gone through multiple interviews in addition to the tasting and they told me I was the “perfect� candidate they were looking for. What

recourse do I have?

Asked on October 8, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you had an enforceable employment contract exisiting with this employer, then you could sue to enforce its terms or for breach of contract. Otherwise, even if you had formed a legal employment relationship with this company, you were an "at will" worker. Accordingly, you could have been terminated for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.  

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

If you had an actual written employment contract from them, you could enforce its terms (e.g. force them to hire you or at least pay you compensation for not hiring you) by suing them for "breach of contract."
Unfortunately, in the U.S., except when there is a still-in-effect (unexpired) written employment contract, you are an "employee at will." An employee at will has NO rights in or to a job and may be terminated without penalty or recourse at any time--even before the job starts. So without a contract, they could do this, and you would not have any recourse against them.
Note that an enforceable written contract needs more than just a start date--it needs a duration or end date, too. Without locking in employment for a defined or set period of time, it does not make you other than an "employee at will," subject to termination at any time.

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