Can my employer sign papers saying that I got a promotion and have me start but then later say that I don’t have the job?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my employer sign papers saying that I got a promotion and have me start but then later say that I don’t have the job?

I was a machine operator on 2nd shift then I got selected for a lead operator position on 3rd shift and told I needed to start right away. This was on a Friday night. We signed paperwork moving me to third shift, the new position and pay rate. I started on the new shift that following Sunday night. Now,

almost 3 weeks later, after I asked about it a week ago, I was told it was put on hold until I had a meeting with one of the higher-ups. This turned out to be an interview for a job I already have and have been doing where he was saying that I might not have it.

Asked on October 25, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, unless those papers formed an actual written employment contract (see below), they merely described what the employer then-intended or then-thought they were doing, without creating any binding or enforceable obligations. Unless an actual contract was formed, you would be an "employee at will" and that means--among other things--that they could rethink or rescind their offer and not give you the job (or give you the job but change terms of it, like title, pay, duties, etc.).
To form an enforceable contract, both of the following must be true:
1) The paperwork must have been for a set or defined period of time, such as a one-year contract starting on a certain day. If the papers did not lock them into giving you a certain job for a specific period  of time, it did not change the employer's right to change things at will.
2) You must have given or promised the employer something of value in exchange for the job, since a contract requires "consideration" (something of value) from each party to the other.
Without 1) and 2) above, there would be no contract.

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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