If I was hired but never given a start date, what do I do now?

I accepted a job offer and filled out the appropriate paperwork. The paperwork was sent to HR and it has been over a month. I quit my old job because of this offer and I have been out of work for a month because HR at the new company has “not completed my background check”. I was under the impression that background checks took, at most, 7 business days. Is there anything I can do? I have lost wages from my old job and have not looked for another one because they keep telling me that I will start in a few days.

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If someone reasonably (i.e. logically and understandably) relies on a representation (or promise) made by another (like a job offer), and in that reasonable reliance takes some action to his  or her detriment (e.g. quits an existing job), and the party making the promise (the potential employer) either knew or should have known the other party would act to his or her detriment (e.g. they knew you had a job, and would have to quit it to take the job they offered you), then that promise may be legally binding. (This is called "promissory estoppel.") From what you write, this may be a case of promissory estoppel; it would be worth your while to consult with an employment attorney and discuss the situation in detail, to see what your rights and recourse might be. Good luck.


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