Is a handshake legally binding?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is a handshake legally binding?

I got a job promotion, terms were given and a handshake. The next Monday they decided to open the job to some upset employees to interview for it and I did not end up getting the promotion. Does my handshake mean anything?

Asked on June 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Utah


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

A handshake is not considered to be a legally binding contract unless a firm offer is made and accepted, and each party gives the other something of value. In other words, as a general rule, a verbal agreement can be binding so long as there is an agreement between 2 parties and each party offers some "consideration" (i.e. each party must make a change in their position). Accordingly, no valid contract was formed so your employer is free to offer the promotion to whomever it wants and you have no recourse. Your only claim here might be if your treatment was the result of some form of legally actionable discrimination, however you did not indicate this to be the case.

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 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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