So you’ve expanded your job search and started looking for jobs in different states. The local job market where you currently live isn’t doing quite as well as the market in other cities and states and perhaps expanding your reach will help. Much to your delight, it worked. You were offered a job in Michigan and have to start packing up your life so you and your family can move. It’s a bit costly to pick up and move, but your new salary will make up for it. You’ve started to move into your new home and get everything situated when you get an email from your new employer. They regret to inform you that they have changed their mind and must revoke the job offer they gave you previously. What?!
Unfortunately, this isn’t just a bad, theoretical situation to see how you react. It’s a harsh reality and it happens to plenty of job seekers every month: Employers rescinding or revoking their job offers. Since the job market and our economy in general is pretty weak, it’s not uncommon for employers to rethink hiring a position. Perhaps in the time they offered the job and the time you were set to start they encountered a financial situation that made them question hiring a new employee. A big reason for employers to revoke their job offer is from a negative background check or a negative polygraph or drug test. Even the slightest slip up in a background check can cause employers to rethink their recent hire.
It may be hard to imagine, but it is not illegal for employers to do this. However immoral, rude, inconvenient or down-right unfair it is, employers have the legal right to change their mind before you start working. Why? Because unless you signed an employee contract that specifically states otherwise, you were hired as an “at will” employee. That means that the employer can let you go at any time, for any reason and not even have to provide you with a reason. Of course, they can’t let you go under racist or discriminatory reasons or for other reasons protected under the law. For instance, whistleblower protections, public policy exclusions and contractual protections are all there to protect you. The whistleblower protection is there for employees that report misconduct or wrongdoing by their company. Public policy is there to protect the worker that files for worker’s compensation, and of course contractual protections are there to protect employees when employers breech a contract or fail to follow company procedures. These are all things that the employer can’t fire or let you go for. However, any other reasons are fair game.
That is why it is so important for you to have firm, strong communication with your future employer. If they offered you the position and did so verbally, ask them to put it in writing. Ask them to write a letter that states they are offering you the position and to put the salary they offered you as well. This way, you have it in concrete writing that they offered you the position. You should also have them put in the letter any promises they made to you. If you had to relocate for this position and they offered you financial incentives or assistance to aid the process, then make sure that is in there as well as what they intend to do if the offer is rescinded. If they said they would help foot the bill for your move and then revoked their offer, you should know what will happen. That is why it’s also a great idea to be upfront with your employer from the get-go and ask them what they intend to do with the incentives they promised you in the event they revoke your job offer.
In your job interview or once they offer the job to you, ask the employer straight out what the chances of them revoking this offer are. Has it happened before? Asking these questions and getting answers is a way to safe guard yourself. Even though you don’t have many rights when it comes to this unfortunate situation, you can take actions to prevent it or to be prepared if it happens. Asking the employer about it and talking about it before you sign on to work for them brings light to the situation and let’s them know that you are taking action to safe guard yourself.