I was asked to quit my present job by another company that wanted to hire me but they changed their mind. I lost my job and what can I do about that?

I applied to a company for an open position posted in their web-site. After the interview they decided to hire me. They took me to a trip in the facility and introduced me to other staff as their new employee. They told everbody that I was going to work with them. I filled the background check form and I was told that I was going to be invited by human resources for paperworks and orientation as soon as they get the background check. They also asked me to quit my previous job.
I quit my job and waited. After a four weeks of silence, I called the interviewer lady. She said that my background check was good but at the last minute they decided to give that position to someone else.
I lost my job, money and self-confidence.

Asked on April 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Normally, you would not have recourse unless you had a written employment contract which was violated, since in the absence of a contract, all employment is employment at will--i.e. you could be terminated, or a promissed job offer withdrawn, at any time, for any reason. 
However, there is a doctrine called "promissory estoppel" which sometimes allows you to enforce a promise even when there is no contract. This doctrine requires that all of the following criteria be met:
1) The other party made you promise (such as of a job);
2) To do what they wanted, you'd have to do something to your detriment (like give up a job); 
3) They knew you'd have to do that thing to your detriment (which they did, if they asked you to give up the job); 
4) Even though they knew you'd have to do that detrimental thing, they still made you the promise (as they did); and
5) It was reasonable to rely on the promise (i.e. there were no warning signs that this was not a sincere or good promise).
When all the above are met, you can potentially force the other side to keep it's promise or at least pay monetary compensation (e.g. several months of salary). If they won't voluntarily honor their promise, you need to sue them to force them to do so. 
It's not a given that you'd win, but you have stated in your question a reasonable case.

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