How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask P. Simmons Your Own Question
P. Simmons
P. Simmons, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 34340
Experience:  Employment Law Expert
11181181
Type Your Employment Law Question Here...
P. Simmons is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I received a written job offer with employee contract and

Customer Question

I received a written job offer with employee contract and accepted. After I accepted, my prospective employer started to call around at my prior employer to ask around about me. I provided 7 references but did not provide authorization for them to conduct backdoor reference checks. (They never informed me that they would do this nor was it a condition of my job offer.) They subsequently rescinded the offer the day I was to start based on feedback from backdoor references.
JA: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: New York
JA: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?
Customer: It was at will. Not union and part time. The conditions noted on the offer letter were only that I sign the documents (employee covenants, offer letter/terms, and stock agreement) AND that I pass a background check. I received a separate email indicating that I had passed the background check and was cleared to start work. The agreement that I signed did make references to Termination with Cause and without Cause.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: The offer letter noted that these agreements become binding based on the terms in the documents. Also, my start date was delayed twice. Also, I'm not employed. I had been interviewing elsewhere and was one of 2 finalists for another role, but I backed out after receiving this offer. Also, all of my references were called prior to receiving my offer letter. The company never communicated that they would call around after they extended the offer or that it was contingent on meeting the requirements of this additional process. Lastly, the reason they pulled the offer is because they heard I could be headstrong....did not always listen to others' opinions.
Submitted: 14 days ago.
Category: Employment Law
Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I paid the $5 and agreed to pay the $33 balance afterwards. I DID NOT agree to start a free trial, so I should not be charged $48/month.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

Hi, My name is***** am an attorney with over 16 years experience. Hopefully I can help you with your legal question.

Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

I am sorry for this dilemma. But not sure I understand your specific question. Are you asking if it was a violation of the law for the employer to contact folks who knew you to determine if they were willing to hire you?

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
Is it a violation for a prospective employer to conduct backdoor reference checks without my consent? Is it a violation if they rescind my offer after meeting both of the contingencies noted in the offer letter (especially at 4pm the day before I was supposed to start the job when the offer had been offered and accepted a month prior)? And, is it misrepresentation if they did not note the additional reference process as being a contingency of employment. They had called all of the references I gave them before they extended the offer. Lastly, while it was "at will," I had a full employment agreement with a per annum salary, start date, severance terms, etc.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

There is no legal requirement you give consent to an employer to contact folks who may know you. And it is not a violation of any law or rule for a company to terminate an "at will" employment agreement.

In an "at will" employer/employee relationship, either side can end the relationship (the employer can fire the employee or the employee can quit) "at will".

As an "at will" employee your options are limited. Your employer can refuse to hire you for a good reason, or no reason at all. The only thing that they can not do refuse to hire for a "bad" reason. A "bad" reason would be if they fired you based on race, ethnicity, national origin, religion or gender some other protected class (like if you were a "whistleblower")

Here, if they refused to hire because they spoke to someone who provided them information to not want to hire, not based on a protected status like your race, etc, you would not have grounds to sue.

This is the part of my job I don't like...when the law is not in favor of my customer. I wish I could tell you that you can sue over this, but I can only provide you information based on the law so that you can act on the best available information to you...I wish I had better news, but can only hope you recognize and understand my predicament and don't shoot the messenger. I'm sorry!

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
But, they called people I do not know.....at a former employer....without my consent. Also, they specifically communicated that they finished speaking with my references. And, I had met the 2 specific contingencies noted in the offer letter. I even received an email indicating that my background check had cleared. Aren't they misrepresenting the situation to me by specifically stating only 2 contingencies in the offer letter/employment terms and writing to me telling me that I passed my background check and was cleared to start? Also, I never consented to them calling around at a former employer.....especially reaching out to people that they feel might know me (who in fact didn't)....it could damage my reputation.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

Can you speak on the phone? This would allow me to address your concerns directly. There is a nominal ($5) additional charge. I do not time my phone calls...we can converse until you receive the information you need.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I am okay with texting. Thank you so much!
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

There is no law that requires they obtain consent before speaking to others about you.
Many companies will seek permission from candidates before interviewing others...this is a courtesy. It is not legally required.

Now...if the misled you (it seems that they did), could that be a basis to sue?

Perhaps...this would be under a so called "quasi contract" theory...if they promised you something that misled you? In theory you could sue them for damages you suffered as a result. Though, frankly speaking, unless you suffered significant harm because of this (for example, say you moved across country), it would not make sense to try and sue, since the cost to sue would likely be more than what you could expect to receive

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
I took myself out of the running for another position (one of the top 2 candidates). Additionally, I was contacted by 6 other recruiters after I accepted the position but advised them I had already accepted the offer. Not to mention that this damages my reputation....I never would have communicated that I accepted this role had I been aware of an ongoing process/contingency. Also, the fact that they waited until the last possible minute....I would have thought that they had much of this information before 4pm on the Friday before I was to start.....shouldn't they have represented that there was a concern earlier rather than continue to communicate/reiterate my start date to me? (e.g Welcome to the team. You are cleared to start on ..... . Your start date is......). This was being reiterated to me up until a few days before I was supposed to start. I had no idea there was a concern.
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

Again, you have an uphill battle here. NY is an at will state...they can refuse to hire you if they like, and unless you can prove it was based on a protected status (again, like race, religion, etc)? You have no case.

As for the quasi contract claim (That they deceived you)? That is a tenuous claim, at best. If you can prove they lied, and you relied on their lies to your detriment? Then perhaps...but you have to pay your lawyers fees...and likely the lawyers fees will eclipse what you could expect to win

Please let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help if I can. Otherwise, please rate the answer so I may get credit for my work.

Customer: replied 14 days ago.
It feels so wrong that a company can be so misleading at that it could be legal. Thank you so much!
Expert:  P. Simmons replied 14 days ago.

Welcome. Thank you for taking the time to accept the answer, I truly appreciate that
phil

Related Employment Law Questions