Is a verbal agreement enforceable?

UPDATED: Apr 8, 2015

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Is a verbal agreement enforceable?

I am (was) the only engineer at a small manufacturing company. My employer and I made a verbal contract; I would teach another employee how to do my job, and I would learn how to operate our manufacturing machines. In the verbal contract, it was explicitly stated that this “cross training” would be temporary and after it was complete we would return to our original positions. It was also explicitly stated that “I would not be training my replacement”. After 5 months of “cross training” I asked my employer when we would be switching back, their reply “we won’t be”. There was 1 other whiteness in the room at the time this verbal agreement was made, but the whole company knew the original plan. Is ther a case here?

Asked on April 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

In an employment contract, a verbal (better known as an oral) agreement is not enforceable; in the absence of a written agreement, all employment is employment at will. Employment at will means that your employment may be terminated at any time, for any reason. Alternately, the employer could do anything short of termination: i.e. change your job, title, or duties; transfer you; demote; etc. So without a written contract, your employer may do anything in regards to your employment which it chooses.

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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