What can I do if my employer is our terminating housing agreement without notice?

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What can I do if my employer is our terminating housing agreement without notice?

My husband’s employer provides housing as part of his compensation package. We were just informed today that the company plans on abandoning the building that we live in, and that we have to leave the premises within 2 days. Is this legal? We are completely blindsided by this and have no

idea what to do. We don’t have alternate housing, and it’s very difficult to secure housing in Hawaii. Not only that but it’s a non-profit company, so my husband doesn’t make much money, which is why they agreed to provide housing. We can’t afford to move. Is this undue hardship on their part?

Asked on October 12, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Hawaii

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The issue really is only whether you have a written employment contract which guaranteed you the housing as part of compensation. If you do, it is enforceable in court: your husband could sue for breach of contract to force them to provide alternate equivalent housing or pay the reasonable fair market value of the housing you had been getting. Unfortunately, if you did not have a written employment contract, your husband's employment was "employment at will." This means, among other things, that the employer may change the terms of employment, including compensation--e.g. the provision of housing--at will, for any reason, without prior notice. Unfortunately, in the absence of a still-in-effect (unexpired) written contract for a definite or defined term (e.g. a one-year contract) all employment is employment at will and is under the employer's sole control. So without a contract, they could do this. The hardship on you and your family is, unfortunately, not a consideration.


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