What are my rights if I’m a contractor and I was asked to start my new job last week but it keeps getting postponed?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if I’m a contractor and I was asked to start my new job last week but it keeps getting postponed?

However they have some IT issues and they could not get everything started before that period and they are keeping me on hold for the past 2 weeks. In that case, can I ask my employer to pay me for the past 2 weeks I was jobless. I quit my previous job to join new company. I am without pay for 2 weeks and I want to know if I have the right to ask my current employer to pay for me?

Asked on August 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written contract stating that you would start (and therefore be paid from) on a given date, you would seem to have a fairly easy case for compensation: you would simply sue your employer for breach of contract, for not honoring their agreeed-upon contractual obligations.

Without a contract, you *may* be able to seek compensation, but you have to rely on the theory of "promissory estoppel," which is not as powerful or straightforward as a breach of contract claim. What "promissory estoppel" means is that IF--

1) The other party made a promise to you,

2) knowing that to act on the promise, you'd have to do something significant to your detriment, like quiting or giving up an existing job, and

3) they did so in the hope that you would rely and act on the promise and

4) it was reasonable for you to rely on the promise (i.e. no warning signs or reasons to be cautious or suspicious), and

5) you did in fact rely on the promise to your detriment, then

--in that case, a court may enforce the promise, which in this situation would mean that you would be paid from the promised start date. A key factor is that they must have known you'd give up an existing job for this job; and another key factor is that it must have been reasonable for you to do so. If all the above elements are met, you may have an enforceable claim for compensation and be able to sue if you not paid voluntarily.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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