If I signed all my paperwork for a new job but they now want to push m start date back 2 months, are they legally obligated to compensate me?

UPDATED: May 29, 2012

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If I signed all my paperwork for a new job but they now want to push m start date back 2 months, are they legally obligated to compensate me?

I already quit my other job because I got hired for this one. I am counting on this job. The HR department already sent a confirmation email saying they received all my paperwork. My new boss said that they may compensate me somehow. Is it legal for them to do this?

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Normally, unless you had an actual employment contract specifying your start date, your employer could change, delay, defer, etc. that date at will. (If you have an employment contract, it is enforceable, like any other contract, and you could, for example, sue for the compensation you are owed under it.) That is because in the absence of a contract, the law will not generally enforce promises; rather someone, like an employer, may change or dishonor its promises, like a promised start date, whenever it wants.

There is exception, however, if you can establish the requirements of "promissory estoppel"--in that event, the promise may be enforceable. To be enforceable, you'd have to show all of the following:

1) To take this job, you would have to do something to your detriment--like leaving an existing job.

2)  The employer knew, at the time, they made you the offer, that you would have to leave the other job to accept a position with them.

3) Knowing that you'd need to leave the other job, they nonetheless made you the job offer, intending that you would take it and give up your other job.

4) It was reasonable for you to rely on their offer--that is, no reason to think it wasn't a valid offer.

5) You did in fact rely on their offer in leaving your job.

If you can establish all these elements, you would have a good chance of holding them to their promise--i.e. of obtaining compensation from the date you were supposed to start. You would have to sue them to do this, however, if they will not voluntarily pay you.

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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