What are my rights/legal options after moving from MA to NH for the same company and then they told me I was no longer needed a week after I moved

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What are my rights/legal options after moving from MA to NH for the same company and then they told me I was no longer needed a week after I moved

Im employed by a Large non profit based right
outside Boston Massachusetts. The organization
teaches and work with children and adults who have
Autism spectrum disorder, are behavioral and have
other comorbid factors or secondary diagnoses.
They have several different areas that they focus
on…home based, residential, day school, adult
placement, and around 40 partner classrooms in
several New England states. I was originally hired to
work on a residential team of 9 male students ages
14-22ish August 10, 2016. I cared for and
implemented classes, behavioral guidelines and
daily life skills according to their individual education
plans at the residence, in the community, and at
school too. I ultimately wanted to work for a partner
school program based in Southern NH. This past
January 2018 I was about to give my 90 day notice
unless there was another opening and could transfer
within the company. I was not happy with my
residential work environment. I was offered a last
minute transfer to a partner classroom in a high
school New Hampshire classroom 630a – 230p M-
F. They were getting another student mid year and
needed another tutor staff because of the 11 student
to staff ratio. It happened so quickly in about a week.
I stared commuting to Derry New Hampshire
Monday-Friday. They still hadnt received a student
so they were floating me around between elementary
school partner classrooms. I started to work more
consistently at the job I was hired for at the High
school. In the meantime they had still yet to receive
the student and continued to shuffle me around as a
floater between the elementary school classrooms
which was a different schedule 730a – 330p M-F.
While this was all happening I was reassured several
times not to worry that I am very much needed and
still have a job at the High school. I continued to
work at the high school and was sent frequently to
work at different partner elementary schools. I was
commuting both ways for work, around 100 miles a
day. I would get stuck in traffic on the way home and
it would sometimes take me up to two hours to get
back home to Boston. I decided to move to Derry
New Hampshire and found a place. I no longer
wanted to commute. It took up a large chunk of my
day. The lead teacher at the high school was aware
of my move. I moved the last weekend of March and
signed a year lease April 1. About a week after I
moved I was told that I was no longer needed or had
a position at the High school because we were no
longer getting a student. They proceeded to have me
work in other classrooms for about another three
weeks with no idea what was ahead. No one would
speak to me or give me any answers. It was about
three weeks and HR finally spoke with me on Friday
April 28 and said that there were no openings in New
Hampshire and my only option was to commute back
to Framingham/Southborough Ma. or feel free to
leave the company. I moved to NH for the high
school position that I signed a contract for so, that I
wouldnt have to commute anymore. It was putting a
huge toll and milage on my car. I now have to fix my
car and its going to cost a lot of Now they want me
to commute back and forth from NH to MA. What are
my rights/legal options? Would I be able to collect
unemployment since I moved to another state for my
job? Do I have an option of collecting severance
pay? Do I have to accept their offer in MA? There
are so many other details that Im leaving out, but
thats the gist of my employment dilemma. I am
meeting with HR and the Director of HR tomorrow
morning. Please advise where I should begin.

Asked on April 30, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) Employment is employment at will unless you had a written employment contract to the contrary. (If you did, you can enforce whatever rights or job protections the contract gave you, such as in court by a "breach of contract" lawsuit.) That means that they could discontinue your employment at any time, for any reason, without notice or warning--even if you moved for the job. In the future, unless you are moving someplace you want to move anyway, never move for a job without a contract guarantying you the job, at least for some reasonable time (e.g. a one-year contract).
2) Because they are asking you to work so far away--further than is reasonable to commute--you could likely consider this "constructive" or effective termination (that is, a change in your job so unreasonable that it is like having the job eliminated) and be eligible for unemployment insurance. This is based on having to take a job 50 miles or more away, which is what your question seems to indicate. Be advised that "constructive termination" is not a black-line or objective test--it's about whether the travel distance is "unreasonable"--so it is not guaranteed you'd be eligible for unemployment for being constructively evicted; the unemployment examiner could feel that your commuting distance was still within the bounds of reasonable travel, for example. So you have appear to have a good case for getting unemployment based on "constructive termination," but we can't assure you that you are certain to get it.
3) Severance is never required (unless you a written contract guarantying it) but is voluntary on the part of the employer. You can ask for or negotiate for it, but it's up to the employer to offer it or not.

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