Permission to consult then retracted

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Permission to consult then retracted

Over a year ago my employer agreed to let me consult via email but never put
it in my hire contract. There is a specific clause that says no outside work,
but I verified with my boss that it was ok for me to consult – in writing
through email – and he said yes. Now he is going back on his word saying the
email means nothing. Is this legal?

Asked on November 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

It is legal for them to do this. Unless the promise is in an actual employment contract, it is just a "gratuitious" (freely made; i.e. not for consideration) promise. Such a gratuitious promise is not enforceable--just as it is freely made, so may it freely be reneged upon or changed, regardless of whether it was made orally or in writing. Only promises contained in actual contracts are enforceable in an employment context.

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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