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?

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 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.


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