Can an employer legally hire you while they are downsizing?

UPDATED: Apr 12, 2012

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Can an employer legally hire you while they are downsizing?

A company recently hired me and gave me a start day. I signed a contract with them that said that I would show up on a specific start date and that I am obligated to work my shift. However, the company called me and postponed the start day until further notice. They may or may not have me start at all. I responded to an advertisement that I found in a local newspaper that said the company was indeed hiring people for jobs. Basically, is it legal for a company to recruit and hire a person for a job that they will eliminate?

Asked on April 12, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, as general matter, it is legal. Employment in your state is employment at will. That means that an employer may terminate an employee at any time, for any reason, at any time--and so it may hire someone only to fire him or her, or defer his or her start date indefinitely (which is tantamount to firing him or her).

You write that you signed a contract. Depending on what exactly the contract says, though, that may give you some enforceable rights. Since the specific language of a contract is critical to determining your rights and recourse under it, you should bring the contract to an employment law attorney to evaluate with you.

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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