Is a verbal agreement enforceable?

I am (was) the only engineer at a small manufacturing company. My employer and I made a verbal contract; I would teach another employee how to do my job, and I would learn how to operate our manufacturing machines. In the verbal contract, it was explicitly stated that this “cross training” would be temporary and after it was complete we would return to our original positions. It was also explicitly stated that “I would not be training my replacement”. After 5 months of “cross training” I asked my employer when we would be switching back, their reply “we won’t be”. There was 1 other whiteness in the room at the time this verbal agreement was made, but the whole company knew the original plan. Is ther a case here?

Asked on April 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

In an employment contract, a verbal (better known as an oral) agreement is not enforceable; in the absence of a written agreement, all employment is employment at will. Employment at will means that your employment may be terminated at any time, for any reason. Alternately, the employer could do anything short of termination: i.e. change your job, title, or duties; transfer you; demote; etc. So without a written contract, your employer may do anything in regards to your employment which it chooses.

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