If I was hired but never given a start date, what do I do now?

UPDATED: Oct 11, 2011

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If I was hired but never given a start date, what do I do now?

I accepted a job offer and filled out the appropriate paperwork. The paperwork was sent to HR and it has been over a month. I quit my old job because of this offer and I have been out of work for a month because HR at the new company has “not completed my background check”. I was under the impression that background checks took, at most, 7 business days. Is there anything I can do? I have lost wages from my old job and have not looked for another one because they keep telling me that I will start in a few days.

Asked on October 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If someone reasonably (i.e. logically and understandably) relies on a representation (or promise) made by another (like a job offer), and in that reasonable reliance takes some action to his  or her detriment (e.g. quits an existing job), and the party making the promise (the potential employer) either knew or should have known the other party would act to his or her detriment (e.g. they knew you had a job, and would have to quit it to take the job they offered you), then that promise may be legally binding. (This is called "promissory estoppel.") From what you write, this may be a case of promissory estoppel; it would be worth your while to consult with an employment attorney and discuss the situation in detail, to see what your rights and recourse might be. Good luck.

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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