What can I do if I was hired but never put to work?
Question Details: I was hired into a company. I filled out all the paperwork and turned in my 2 weeks notice to my other job. I was supposed to start 08-19 but put my start date off to 09-09. They then put it off again and were supposed to call me last week for another start date. However, I have not heard from anyone in a week. I've left multiple text messages and emails for several people. Yet, none will return my call. Now I've been out of work with no pay for weeks, soon to be a month. Can I do anything for compensation or am I just out of luck? I live I FL and the corporate office is in NC. The job was a traveling position throughout the states. I'm at a loss. Is there anything that I can do?
Unfortunately, unless you had a written employment contract for a set period of time (e.g. a one-year contract) with a firm start date which has been violated, you are out of luck. (If you did have such a contract, you could bring a "breach of contract" lawsuit against them to enforce its terms.)
In the absence of such a written employment contract, all employment in this country is "employment at will." That means, among other things, that an employer can terminate you whenever they want, with no notice or warning--and that in turn means they can legally "terminate" you even before you begin, by simply never starting you. They are also under no obligation to speak to you or give you an explanation of what occured.
Unless this action vioates the terms of an employment contract that you may have entered into, you have no claim here. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will" which means that a business can set the conditions fo employment mch as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). Accordingly, just a promise of work does not impart any legal liability on an employer if the offer is subsequently withdrawn. That having been said, if you did not have an employment contract but you did do something significant to your detriment in reliance on the promise of employment (such as resigning another job), then you could possibly still hold them accountable for their promise. The issue would be if this employer knew or should have known that you were quitting an existing job. The legal basis of such liability is something called "promissory estoppel" or "detrimental reliance". To prove such a claim is must be demonstrated that there was: 1) a promise which was reasonable to rely on; 2) reasonable reliance was in fact made on that promise; 3) in reasonable reliance, you changed your position to your detriment; and 4) the employer knew (or should have known) at the time they made the promise that it would be reasonable for you to change your position in reliance on the promise. At this point, you should consult directly with an employment law attorney who can best advise you further.