Is a handshake a legally binding contract?

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Is a handshake a legally binding contract?

I was hired at a local company, promised a salary and a yearly bonus. I put my 2 weeks in at my last job, then started my new job. A few days later, I was informed that the position I was hired for no longer existed. there was no paper contract, just a verbal agreement and a handshake to close the deal, can I sue?

Asked on August 5, 2011 Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may have grounds to force them to honor their commitment.

1) An oral or verbal agreement is, generally, speaking, binding. It is not necessary for a contract to be on paper to be a contract. All that is necessary is agreement between two parties and each party offering some consideration, or thing of value--the job; and your promise to work.

2) In addition, if you quit your former job due to the committment that you had a new job, the prospective employer may be prevented--or estopped--from denying its promise. When someone reasonably relies on a promise, and in reliance upon it changes his or her position to his or detriment, and the promising party knew or should have known that the promisee would do that, then that may be enough to enforce the contract.

It would seem to be worthwhile for you to consult with an employment attorney.


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