Can an offer and acceptance form a verbal contract?

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Can an offer and acceptance form a verbal contract?

I was recently offered and subsequently accepted a position. Several weeks later, I was told the position had been filled internally. I declined several other job offers in this time, assuming that the offer and acceptance was final. The email I was sent told me that the position had been filled after interviews were over and obviously after my acceptance of the job. Is there any legal action that I can take for breaking the agreement? I’ve lost potential income since I didn’t take another job after accepting this offer, not to mention the fact that I’m angry and emotionally shattered over the whole thing.

Asked on March 4, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, you do not have recourse.
Employment in this nation is "employment at will": an employee may be terminated at any time, even before starting (e.g. having an offer rescinded). There is no right to or guaranty of a job; since even a current employee in good standing with no issues or problems may be freely terminated, a company can decline to start someone to whom they had extended an offer. 
The only exception to employment at will is if there is a written contract for a defined or set period of time (e.g. a one year contract) with a fixed start date: in that case, you are guaranteed employment during the term or period of the written contract (though not one minute longer). But only a written contract as described above gives you any enforceable rights to a job.


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