Was my offer letter for my new job legally binding?

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Was my offer letter for my new job legally binding?

My employer’s initial offer letter that I signed stated that my medical benefits

would be available immediately. After a couple weeks of employment, I went to

the ER with a kidney stone. My employer then informed me that the medical

benefits wouldn’t be available until the 1st of the next month 2 days away and

that the offer letter just had a typo. They are unwilling to offer any further help

with the situation. The bill amounted to almost 6k. Was the offer letter I signed in any way legally binding? Is my employer responsible at all for the promise of medical benefits? I signed no further contracts after I began my employment. Is this even worth following up on legally?

Asked on November 22, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

So long as the job is accepted, than any applicable offer letter is legally binding since it shows that an agreement was reached between the parties. However, offer letters are usually worded in such a way as to protect an employer. Typically, there are conditions in the letter, such as completing a probationary period or passing a background check. Further, most offer letters also detail the status of employment by using statements such as “at-will", that  “employment is for no specific period of time”, or “the company may terminate employment at any time and for any reason, with or without notice". Accordingly, whether or not your letter is binding deppends on its specific wording. At ths point, you should consut directly with a local employent law attorney who can best advise you further.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

The offer letter would only be binding if it constituted a contract. It would only be a contract if it was for a defined period of time, such as a one-year contract. Any writing or document about your job which does not lock in the terms of employment for a set or fixed period of time does not alter the employer's right to change the terms of employment (such as when health benefits kick in) at will.


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