What to do if a place of employment had me sign a contract but told me 6 weeks later that they didn’t have a position for me?

I was hired by a school system last month. I signed a contract that day and even went ahead with their background check and health check up. I was called today, and told they don’t have a position for me. I told them that I had turned down other interviews because I had signed a contract with their district. Do they not have to honor the contract that I signed?

Asked on July 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an employment lawyer: you may have one or both of the following grounds to take legal action and seek compensation:

1) Breach of contract. An employment contract is enforceable. Whether an actual contract was formed in this case depends on the circumstances and the exact language of the agreement (which also, if there is a contract, will determine your specific rights). If you signed what appears to be an employment contract, it is well worthwhile to show it to an attorney and discuss the situation in depth with the lawyer to see what recourse you may have.

2) Promissory estoppel: If the employer knew or should have known (such as because you mentioned it during an interview) that you were giving up other interviews or opportunties for their offer and, knowing that, made you the offer of employment anyway, under some circumstances, that could make their promise enforceable even in the absence of a contract. This is something else to discuss with an employment law attorney.

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