What are my rights if I was officially offered a job over a month ago and I accepted it but the offer was later withdrawn at the last minute?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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What are my rights if I was officially offered a job over a month ago and I accepted it but the offer was later withdrawn at the last minute?

There was an agreement to what my salary would be. This job required me to move out of state. The day before I was going to leave, I got a call from my employer the principal of a school, telling me not to come and that he offered the job to someone else. I spent a lot of time and money preparing for this temporary job, and even quit my permanent job. I paid a lot of money in plane tickets and purchasing winter gear since the job required me to move from California to an Alaskan winter. I was going to be a biology teacher for 4 months. It is on Alaska Native corporation land, so I’m not sure if their legal system is different.

Asked on September 29, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that if there is no actual employment contract, an employer may generally fire an employee as it chooses, or as in this case, rescind a job offer. The exception to this would be in a case where the legal remedy of "promissory estoppel" or "detrimental reliance" applies.
The elements of promissory estoppel are 1 a promise was made 2 that was reasonable to rely on 3 that the person actually did infact rely on it and in so doing changed their position to their detriment and 4 the promissor knew or should have known that at the time they made the promise it would be reasonable for the promissee to act on it.
d on the facts presented you may have a claim here. Right now you should consult directly with an employment law attorney they can further advise you of your rights.

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