Do I have grounds to file legal action against my employer based on my accepting a position if that position was later given to someone else?

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Do I have grounds to file legal action against my employer based on my accepting a position if that position was later given to someone else?

I interviewed, was offered and accepted a position at my work. I kept getting the runaround when I would inquire about orientation. Several months came and went, with my ever going through orientation or to even do the job. Approximately 1 month ago I was told by the manager she had changed her mind and wasn’t going to let me do the job, because I am “to abrupt”. So now another person has that position, he did interview for the position but wasn’t initially chosen. I am just wondering/curious if there is anything legally I can do?

Asked on August 15, 2011 West Virginia


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

If any of the following is true, you may have a cause of action; otherwise, probably not:

1) You gave up something to take the position; e.g. didn't take a different job, didn't relocate, accepted lower pay, etc. If you did, that reliance by you on what they promised may make the promise enforceable.

2) If you have a firm written contract which makes it clear that you have the job, that may be enforceable.

3) If you were discrminated against illegally--i.e. not given the position because of race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability.

4) You make a protected complaint or claim--such as about discrimination, for overtime, for FMLA leave--and were retaliated against.

Apart from the above, the problem is that if you don't have a contract, you are an employee at will, and employers may transfer, demote, change the job of, etc. employees at will at any time, for any reason. Thus, they could one day say you had the job, then the next day say no.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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