Can employer let you go before your official start date even if you do training beforehand with company?

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Can employer let you go before your official start date even if you do training beforehand with company?

I was recently hired for a new job. I went through the standard route and gave my 2 week notice with my currently employer. The company insisted that I attend their national sales training and start the same week. They initially wanted me to start the same week. I insisted that I needed to give a full 2 week notice as I was coming from working directly with 2 Fortune 500 companies. I told my previous employer that I would take vacation days to attend this training and explained that I was doing this out of respect for the company for employing me for all the years I was there. I flew to the corporate office for the new company for 2 days. This was all 2 weeks prior to my official start date. I attended the training and even filled out my onboarding paperwork while signing it for the official start date a few weeks later. On my return, I was informed by the hiring manager that he wanted to talk to me the next morning. I called him then and was informed that they no longer wanted to seek my employment as they thought I would not be a good fit for the company. They asked if I could see if my previous employer would be willing to rehire me. If not, then they would see what they could do. I have no idea if my previous employer will hire me back and if it will affect my ability to develop my career further much like a new role will. I feel it tarnishes my reputation with my previous employer as well as client who are both major companies in my small industry. I am eligible for rehire, but feel going back will tie me there and not allow me to look at other opportunities. Do I have the ability to take any legal recourse with regards to what this company did to me? Also, on a side note, I had a staffing agency approach me about this job at the end of last year. The company in question chose to pass on me. They approached me 3 months later offering the current role they are letting me go from but they were insistent on keeping this staffing firm in the dark about this action. I agreed as I thought this opportunity would help me further my career in the direction I was hoping to go. Does this also add anything to my case as I know this company was trying to prevent from paying the placement fee with the staffing agency?

Asked on April 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Employoment is employment at will: if you did not get a written emploment contract guarantying you employment for some period of time (e.g. one year), then the employer could terminate your employment at any time, for any reason, regardless of its effect on you--even before your official start date (i.e. rescind the offer).
2) Knowing they were trying to cheat the recruiter does not help *you*--maybe the recruiter could sue them, if the recruiter learns about this, but that's the recruiter's issue. You were not a party to the agreement between company and recruiter and have no stake in it. If anything, this could hurt  you, such as by potentially exposing you to liability as someone who helped cheat the recruiter; it also would not paint you in a sympathetic light in court or in any proceedings. You're best off not bringing it up.
For future reference: a company willing to do this and cheat a vendor (a recruiter) is one that does not take its ethical obligations seriously--it's not someone you'd want to work for, and is more likely to treat employees badly, too. If any company wants you to help them do this, don't take the job.


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