Can an employer hire you and then mail you a letter denying employment a few days before you were supposed to start?

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Can an employer hire you and then mail you a letter denying employment a few days before you were supposed to start?

My boyfriend just had his first second and third interviews with an employer. He signed all papers for being hired and the employer told him that he would be starting next week. The employer said that they would call him with his schedule. Now two days before he was supposed to start work they mailed a letter saying that he’s now not hired due to his record. He served 30 days probation when he was 18. He is now 21. Are they allowed to hire him and now turn around and say no?

Asked on February 3, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If there was no actual employment contract entered into between your boyfriend and the employer, they could withdraw their employment offer (especially if, for example, some additional information came up during a background check). There is an exception: if--

1) they promised your boyfriend the job;

2) to take the job, your boyfriend did something significant to his detriment, like giving up an existing job or relocating;

3) it was reasonable for  your boyfriend to rely on this promise (e.g. it seemed very "solid"); and

4) the employer knew or should have known that your boyfriend to do this (for example, they knew he had another job at the time), but still made the promise, intending that he rely on it and act to his detriment

--then in that situation, the "detrimental reliance" by your boyfriend may make the promise of a job binding, under the theory of "promissory estoppel."

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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