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We rescinded an offer to a candidate. Can we be sued?


Guest iknowu2_99
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Guest iknowu2_99

Last month we contacted a very impressive candidate whom we extended an offer to. At the interview, we offered her the job on the spot. We told her she was our top pick of candidates and that she could start working the following Monday. I gave her the Benefits package and was excited about her starting.

Weeks went by pending a start date for this candidate from the Accounting Dept Manager. I found out from the Accounting Department that the Hiring Manager who wanted this candidate had changed his mind about the position altogether. I feel bad because the candidate passed up job some job opportunities to accept the job that we verbally expressed and had sent emails to stating our interest, pending a start date.

The candidate has been calling and emailing expressing her opinions about what happened with the position and that she missed out on another job waiting on us. We feel so stuck that we haven’t called, emailed, or communicated with the candidate or even the fact that the job is no longer needed. Honestly, we are hoping that she would just go away. We are wondering, can she legally pursue us for putting our ‘foots in our mouths’ about this position? She does have my communication, HR, in several emails stating that we wanted her to work for us and we were just pending a date.

Don’t know what to do… Please advise

CD

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Your candidate may very well have grounds for breach of contract. Here's an excerpt from a Q & A in the Boston Globe

http://bostonworks.boston.com/globe/job_do...es/011203.shtml

"Breach of contract: Once you received the offer and mailed the signed acceptance letter, the employer was precluded from simply withdrawing the offer. According to Greenbaum, ''You relied to your detriment upon the belief that your acceptance of the offer created a contract when you turned down the second offer.'' Since it sounds as though you were hired - as most people are - as an employee at will, the amount of ''contract damages'' in this situation would be, according to Greenbaum, ''open to question.'' Without knowing what the law is in the state where the company was located, it is difficult to make a determination."

Not knowing all of the details, I'd advise you to consult an attorney, hastily. The longer you are unresponsive to the candidate, the more annoyed they will become.

Even if it doesn't end up in litigation, be assured that this candidate's experience with your Company is going to make the rounds to the detriment of the Company's reputation.

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It depends on whether there is a binding contract upon the applicant's acceptance of the offer and what is the detrimental reliance. In the US employees can be fired for any non discriminatory reason after they are hired without liability. In some cases an employer has been held liable if the prospective employee signed a letter accepting the position and incurred financial expenses such as moving costs to relocate before the offer was recinded. You need to consult with counsel and pay for the review.

mjb

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we haven’t called, emailed, or communicated with the candidate or even the fact that the job is no longer needed. Honestly, we are hoping that she would just go away.

In my opinion, your lack of communication with applicant is not only discourteous, but may increase your potential liability. The applicant may pass up additional opportunities under the false hope that you will honor the verbal and written agreement you made.

...but then again, What Do I Know?

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Guest iknowu2_99

Thanks for all your advice regarding the rescinded offer posting. The candidate has sought legal representation. Since we didn't have the official agreement signed by her, we are hoping that our losses are minimal. Once again, thanks.

CD

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest banality

Comment on Demosthenes comment about the story making the rounds.

I sincerely hope the candidate who was given the run around does find an attorney - but that may depend on what kind of money the attorney thinks he or she can make off the case rather than whether the law was broken.

It's possible the story won't make the rounds, either - which is sad for other people who might be victimized by this sort of situation. The problem is that when someone complains that they were wronged, the human instinct is to analyze what's wrong with the complainer (and fill in the gaps with assumptions that go against the complainer). This is because complaining in itself is seen as a bad character trait.

1. While the possibilitity the complaint is unjustified is on the table, the person you're complaining to may wonder if you will "come after them" the next time there is some disagreement.

2. Self-representation is usually assumed to be biased.

3. The "complainer" is a negative stereotype that sticks. Furthermore, publicizing a problem will draw mean spirits out of the wood work - who will call you "disgruntled" or "whining", etc.

4. Complaining about the specific company (which would do other people the most informative good) is perceived as a type of personal attack. The person who complains thereby loses some of their reputation for neutral and objective thought.

5. People don't want to get into a rabble: everyone likes to see themselves as "staying out of it" - because that makes them morally superior, and taking sides tends to escalate conflict.

There are probably many other psychological mechanisms that goes on, but suffice it to say society always sides with the aggressor who took the initiative when they weren't personally present to judge for themselves what happened.

The only way "word will get out" is if someone other than the victim has a lot of energy in championing their cause. This champion is perceived as neutral. A person is lucky to have such a champion, but it's unlikely that champion is going to have the energy to do much more than speak up one or two times on the victims behalf. If the victim is rich and can pay a lawyer to stand up for them, that's a different story.

Unfortunately, employment law is not a particularly lucrative area because the damages tend to be not worth the effort.

So, in my opinion, this person was brutally wronged and won't be able to make things right. Moreover, if this company gets away with "minimizing damages" and word doesn't get out, then this company will see their approach as a risk management success. They will feel free to do it again.

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  • 3 weeks later...

iknowu2_99, shame on you.

It's disgraceful that people are too arrogant to recognize a universal truth known by me and all of my fellow-attorneys: Most people who sue wouldn't do so if they had received a sincere apology (sincere being the operative word here) and an explanation in a timely manner.

I hope the litigant wins $. I hope that the litigant names all the parties involved (even if they are subsequently dismissed), and I hope the same thing happens at some time in the not so distant future to all the people who, instead of being human, coldly hoped the recipient of the offer would just go away.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest banality

Hear, hear! Jimmy for president!

My pov as someone with good cause to sue: I don't want to. It takes a lot of time at work. If you've had a traumatic experience, you have to tell your story to attorney after attorney. If they don't feel they can profit from the case, you have to deal with the fact that you aren't able to get help because of your poor and your case is not the cash cow type. No one compensates a person for the time and emotional stress of trying to find an attorney.

Thus, I would bet most people just want the person/corporation that harmed them to do the right thing. Offer an apology, and just compensation for any loss suffered. I would guess that the current disposition of companies to stonewall and escape admission of wrongdoing is actually provoking lawsuits. If people don't sue, then we live in a world where evil just prevails when it has the power not to bother with an apology.

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iknowu2

You might want to see if the facts and circumstances have any parallel to your case:

http://news.public.findlaw.com/employment_...8130009_28.html

George D. Burns

Cost Reduction Strategies

Burns and Associates, Inc

www.costreductionstrategies.com(under construction)

www.employeebenefitsstrategies.com(under construction)

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The applicant/acceptance door swings both way. A few years ago I represented an employer who offerred a position on its equity trading floor to a candidate. After she accepted the offer the candidate revealed that for religious reasons she would have to leave before the close of trading on some days. The supervisor recinded the offer because it was a condition of employment that traders were required to remain on the trading floor every day until the close of trading. The applicant filed a claim of religious discrimination which was denied by the human rights agency that investigated the claim.

mjb

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mbozek, You are absolutely correct.... and your scenario supports my contentions.

There is no denying that both applicants and employers have the potential to be stinkers. In the case you describe (re: an applicant's inability to perform as was expected), there should be no question but that the applicant/employee was wrong to hide material information from the employer and then sue, crying out DISCRIMINATION, when the firing was based on a failure by the applicant/employee to satisfy the conditions of employment. It's a justice that, under the facts set forth, the applicant's claim was denied.

Unlike the fact pattern that iknowu2_99 put before us, in your case the employer in the case was the injured party. Did the employer sue for breach of contract? If so, would they have sued had they received a sincere apology and an explanation from the applicant.

The problem out there seems to be that the injuring party perceives ITSELF as the victim.

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How did the employer get to be the injured party? The employer made the offer and the employer rescinded the offer. There was no action by the applicant and there was no action by the applicant prior to the rescinding? The alleged cause for action is the rescinding of the offer.

What is that you see that no one else seems to have seen?

George D. Burns

Cost Reduction Strategies

Burns and Associates, Inc

www.costreductionstrategies.com(under construction)

www.employeebenefitsstrategies.com(under construction)

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mbozek told us about an employer that extended an offer to an applicant, the applicant accepted but then, after accepting, said that the required hours were not possible. The employer rescinded the offer to the applicant because the employer needed an employee who would not leave work early. The applicant sued, claiming religious discrimination. The employer was the injured party.

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I do apologize, I did not notice that you had stated "in your case" in reference to the mbozek case. In fact, I also missed "Unlike the fact pattern ..."

3 martini lunches?

I should learn to reread in those circumstances.

I love lawyers, some are even friends. Lawyers, I know what to do with them, It is attorneys that I dislike.

Arguments can be good therapy just like hot women, they keep the heart working and the blood flowing. It beats pumping iron.

George D. Burns

Cost Reduction Strategies

Burns and Associates, Inc

www.costreductionstrategies.com(under construction)

www.employeebenefitsstrategies.com(under construction)

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Guest Donkey Kong
Arguments can be good therapy just like hot women, they keep the heart working and the blood flowing. It beats pumping iron.

Unless of course your argument is not over the internet, rather the guy is right in front of you and wants to punch you in the face. Then you will have wished you pumped iron for blood flow instead on antagonizing people or ogling "hot women".

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You do have to try and smile sometimes. It will do wonders for an aggressive personality.

My face to face arguments are more intense than my internet arguments.

George D. Burns

Cost Reduction Strategies

Burns and Associates, Inc

www.costreductionstrategies.com(under construction)

www.employeebenefitsstrategies.com(under construction)

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