If I was hired as a subcontractor by a company, do I have a right to quit if I can’t relocate?

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2011

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If I was hired as a subcontractor by a company, do I have a right to quit if I can’t relocate?

The original plan was to work on an hourly basis with a per diem for a couple of months to cover my housing and travel until I relocate my family (400 miles away), then change to a different hourly rate. I haven’t been successful because my wife hasn’t been able to find a job here (6 months have passed, and we both need to work). Do I have a legal right to find another position back home and quit this position because of that? Can I collect unemployment? My rights aren’t spelled out in the work order, but being away from my family has caused both an emotional hardship as well as a real hardship with the needs of 4 children.

Asked on August 3, 2011 Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you signed a contract or agreement stating you would complete a given project, work for a certain length of time, etc., you may quit at will. If you did sign a contract, then you are bound by its terms; if you breach it, you may be sued for damages (e.g. for the cost of hiring someone to complete a project, or for the company's loss of revenue if they can't deliver on time). It's also possible that if the company "put itself out" in some significant way to hire you (e.g. took on a contract it otherwise would not; passed on some other candidate) based on your representations you'd stay with them for a certain minimum period, that even without a contract, you may be liable. But in the absence of such a contract or such reliance by the employer, you may quit freely. (Of course, they could truthfully tell others in the industry what you did, so you need to weigh any impact on your career.)

2) As for unemployment, if you were an employee and you have worked enough to qualify for it under your state's rules, you should be able to claim it; if you were an independent contractor, not an employee, I don't think you can, though you should still contact the unemployment office to inquire.

3) The hardship on you is irrelevant to the issue of unemployment and whether you can quit.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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