What to do if I recently accepted a job offer but after 6 weeks on the job I was laid off due to a “reorganization”

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What to do if I recently accepted a job offer but after 6 weeks on the job I was laid off due to a “reorganization”

I left a great job with a previous employer to work here because I was promised long term growth and development considering I’m at management level. After just six weeks on the job I was laid off. They offered me no severance and I’m not entitled to anything since their company policy states that you must be employed for 6 months to be eligible for anything. This is so wrong and I’m wondering what my legal rights are.

Asked on August 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Normally, an employer is free to lay off or fire employees when it chooses; and also normally, a job offer does not create any enforceable obligations. Sometimes, however, you can enforce a promise of a job offer if all the following are met:

1) You were promised the job (and/or a long-term opportunity);

2) To take the promise, you had to do something to your significant detriment (like leave an existing job);

3) The employer knew you'd have to do that thing to your detriment (e.g. leave an existing job) at the time they made the offer;

4) Knowing this, they still made the offer, to induce you to come to work for them;

5) It was reasonable for you to believe and rely on the offer;

6) The offer was withdrawn, or the job terminated within a sufficiently short time of you accepting it and doing that thing to your detriment.

When all these conditions are met, the offer may be enforceable under the theory of "promissory estoppel." However, if you did anything to cause the layoff--poor performance; violated policy; did not have the skills or experience you had claimed to have; etc.--then the company would still be entitled to lay you off or fire you.

If you believe, based on the facts of your case, that you may have an enforceable claim, you should consult with an employment law attorney to discuss your rights and options in detail.


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