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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 102601
Experience:  Years of experience in running a medium sized law firm.
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Company is selling a division of the company I work for.

Customer Question

Company is selling a division of the company I work for. July 7, I was told I would not be part of the sale, and that July 31 would be my last day. I would receive severance and my retention bonus. My manager suggested I start looking for a job. July 27, Leadership decides to delay the new date. Meanwhile, I have a job offer. I started the job search based on what they told me, I complied with their requirements to keep things quiet, and now cannot select my start date, because I fear I will not get the severance and retention that was promised me. Can I sue for promissory estoppel for the severance and retention, since I relied on the verbal notice to find another job?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.

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What state are you in, please?

This is not an answer, but an information request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
IL...HQ is in TX,
Expert:  Ely replied 2 years ago.

Thank you.

Pretty much the only cause of action that would fit would be promissory estoppel - I was thinking this while reading your question.

"A promise which the promisor should reasonably expect to induce action or forbearance of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promisee and which does induce such action or forbearance is binding if injustice can be avoided only by enforcement of the promise." This is promissory estoppel, and may be a cause of action in a suit. Illinois has pretty much adopted this verbiage for the definition of promissory estoppel. See Bank of Marion v. Robert" Chick" Fritz, Inc., 311 NE 2d 138 - Ill: Supreme Court 1974. Originally, that definition comes from the Second Restatement.

So yes, one can pursue under this doctrine, technically. However, one would have to prove by CLEAR evidence that (1) one was told that they would be let go by a certain date, (2) that it be a specific date, and (3) one was encouraged to seek alternative employment.

After this, it is up to the Judge or Jury. Promissory estoppel subjectivity. Like most causes of action, it provides the definition, but then it is up to Judge or Jury to make a decision.

Best of luck.

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