What can I do if my employer has breached a verbal agreement?

I was working full-time at a plant, recently I got another job and now I can’t work the full-time hours. I have a verbal agreement with the plant that I can work part-time hours and when I become eligible for insurance at my other job I must drop my Insurance at the plant. Well now they are telling me that I am not eligible for vacation, and that they are going to drop my insurance and benefits this week. In the employee handbook the only thing that states that you must be full-time is the insurance. Can they do that? We are in a verbal agreement so will I lose if I try to fight it since nothing has been signed stating I can go part-time?

Asked on September 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A verbal or more properly called "oral" agreement like the one you describe is not enforceable for at least two reasons
1 If it is not a written agreement for a definite period of time or duration, it may be changed at will by the employer, so it does not bind them at any time, they can change the terms.
2 If you were working there already, you did not give them any "consideration," or anything of value, in exchange for their promise i.e. they already had your work. But without consideration, there is no enforceable contract rather there is only a "gratiutous" or free promise, which again, can be changed or ignored at will.
Therefore, your employer appears to have had the right to do this based on what you have written, and you do not appear to have any recourse.


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