Can an employer rescind a written and accepted offer because they made an error stating the job position?

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Can an employer rescind a written and accepted offer because they made an error stating the job position?

After a year of unemployment and retraining, my brother received an offer letter for a web designer position including salary, benefit package and start date of 2 days ago. A few days prior to start date he got a call from the hiring manager’s supervisor asking for more information on my brother’s specific skills. The problem was that the supervisor was looking for a web developer, not web designer and they felt he was not qualified as a developer, which he isn’t However, he had resigned his part time job based on the offer. Don’t they owe him a job? They messed up. What recourse does he have?

Asked on August 14, 2011 Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They might owe him a job, or at least monetary compensation. Your brother should consult with an employment attorney. There are two different theories that could help him:

1) If he received and accepted a firm offer, that constitutes an agreement or contract to give him employment. If the offer was based on a mutual mistake between the two parties--e.g. he thought it was a designer job; they thought he was developer--it *might* be voidable. But on the other hand, if your brother provided them all relevant information honestly for the job as advertised, and they simply thought at first he could do the job, then later changed their mind, that would not let them out of the contract; "buyer's remorse" (or in this case, "employer's remorse") does not serve to void a contract and its obligations. Mutual mistake, by the way, as described above, is rare and difficult to show; it usually only  happens when the two parties, with the best intentions, were talking at cross purposes.

2) Even without a valid agreement, if your brother reasonably relied on what he was told to give up something of value--his existing job--and the prospective employer either knew or should have known that he would do that in reliance on what they said, that may be enough to hold them liable under the theory of "promissory estoppel."


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