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Marsha411JD
Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19768
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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I am in a position at a non-profit and my offer letter

Customer Question

I am in a position at a non-profit and my offer letter specifically said my position was for 18 months. I was just told that the funds were not available and I was going to be let go and it is only my 13th month. The non-profit has been using funds in areas where the funds were not assigned to me used. Do I have a case?
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 9 months ago.

Hello,

Thank you for the information and your question. Can you tell me what State you work in? Also, just to be clear, you have an offer letter, correct?

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
i do have an offer letter which specifically says my position is for 18 months. I am in the northern va area and I work in d c
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 9 months ago.

Hello,

Thank you for that information. In DC, as in most other jurisdictions, including VA, an offer letter is not considered a contract. In other words, an employer always has the right to withdraw it or change the terms and conditions of employment stated in the contract at any time in the future. That includes the term of employment stated in the offer. If there were, on the other hand, a term contract, that had all of the details of the job, pay, hours, etc., was signed by both parties and clearly stated it was a contract, that would be enforceable.

That means that the regular law of employment in DC would cover your situation. That, as you may know, is employment "at will." That in turn means that an employer may terminate an employee for any, or no, reason and with no notice or warning unless they are doing so because the employee is in a protected class under employment discrimination laws or because they exercised their rights in the following matters:

  • Whistleblowing. Properly reporting what the employee reasonably believes to be illegal activity;
  • Fraud. Refusing to engage in fraudulent business practices;
  • Government Investigations. Cooperating with a government investigation or refusing to lie to a government official;
  • Discrimination. Opposing what the employee reasonably believes to be illegal discrimination;
  • Family Leave. Exercising your right to take unpaid leave; and
  • Unpaid Wages. Demanding wages be paid promptly.

Unless your situation fits within one of those exceptions then, although the employer may be managing the money they receive improperly and thereby making poor management decisions, you would not have legal recourse in the situation. If you do believe that you fall within one of the exceptions, then you should speak to a local employment law attorney about the possibility of filing suit.

Please feel free to ask for clarification if needed. If none is needed, then if you could take a moment to leave a positive rating in the box above, I will receive credit for assisting you today. Thank you

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
I am a bit confused. You wanted to make sure I had an offer letter. Then you said the offer letter is not a contract. But, then you said they can change the "terms of the contract" at any time. My offer letter has the term of service, pay, hrs, it was signed by both parties, it gave conditions of continued employment after the term and it gave no notice of "at will" conditions for me or them. It plainly gave an offer, time period for acceptance. etc. Please help me to understand this.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 9 months ago.

Thank you for your reply. I was confirming you had an offer letter versus a term contract, for purposes of my answer, which was accurate, although I should have used the words "employment arrangement" versus "contract" when speaking of the terms of employment. The law is clear that an offer letter is, in most cases, not an enforceable contract. However, there are some exceptions. Only a court of law though can decide whether or not the document an employee says should be enforced as a contract, is. One reason a court might side with the employee is if there is no equivocation as to the length or any of the terms in the language of the document. If you believe that you have that sort of document, then the only way to know whether it is enforceable is to file suit, which can be costly initially, and see what the court says. You can sit down with a DC employment law attorney and have them review the document and tell you whether they think the local judiciary will find it enforceable or not and go from there.

I can only tell you what the law in general says since I am not your attorney and don't have all of the facts related to the formation of the agreement. I apologize for the confusion from my initial response.

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Do you guys refer any attorneys in the Northern Virginia/District of Columbia area? I would appreciate it.
Expert:  Marsha411JD replied 9 months ago.

I apologize for not getting back to you last night but I had already logged off of the night. We cannot make specific referrals, however, your best bet is to go through the Bar Association of the District of Columbia Lawyer Referral Service. The number for that Bar is(###) ###-#### ***** have a website as well but unfortunately it is down this morning so I can't provide you a link. If you want to find a VA attorney, remember that if you were employed in DC, they will need to be admitted to the Bar in DC as well, which many are. The Virginia Bar Association makes referrals too, but certain counties (especially in NO VA), make their own. You can find their contact information at: http://www.vba.org/?page=referrals_complaints

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