What are my rights if I was recently selected for a fellowship position with a media company but laid off prior to the end of my contract term?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What are my rights if I was recently selected for a fellowship position with a media company but laid off prior to the end of my contract term?

I took the opportunity because I was assured that I would most likely be hired at the end of the term – if it was a fit for both parties. It was a 6 month contract but I was layed off by the employer after less than 2 months into the fellowship after relocating specifically for the job. Due to some apparent financial woes, they let go both of my superiors, as well as a handful of other team members. This was completely out of my hands and I am curious what legal options I have given that they did not honor our 6 month contract and give me the option to finish the term.

This has been a major blow for our family because of all that we gave up for the opportunity.

Asked on December 17, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Nebraska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you had a written contract which by its terms guaranteed you a 6-month employment, then so long as there was no term or provision in the contract allowing them to lay you off under these circumstances (contracts are enforced according to their terms; you have whatever rights--and only those rights--the terms of the contract give you), you should be able to sue for breach of contract, to get the additional 4 months of pay to which you were entitled.
If you did not have a written contract preventing them from laying you off in this situation, however, they could do it, even if you had relocated 2 months ago: with a written contract, employment is "employment at will," and may be terminated at the will of the employer at any time.

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