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Jane T (LLC)
Jane T (LLC), Lawyer (JD)
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Alpha Corporation in Boston offers a job to Carol, who ...

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Alpha Corporation in Boston offers a job to Carol, who lives in Des Moines, Iowa. Carol orally agrees with Alpha to work in Boston for two years. She moves her family to Massachusetts and begins to work. Three months later, she is fired for no stated cause. She files a suit against Alpha for reinstatement or pay. Alpha pleads the lack of a written contract. In whose favor is the court likely to rule and why?
Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Jane T (LLC) replied 9 years ago.

The statute of frauds requires that a contract which cannot be performed within a year must be in writing to be enforced. For this reason Alpha will succeed on the lack of a written contract claim as the job was supposed to be for two years. Without a written contract, therefore, Carol is no more then an employee-at-will, who can be fired or hire at any time, for any reason.

However, under promissory estoppel, the equitable remedy that says that when a promisor, such as Alpha, makes a promise to a promisee (like Carol) which the promisor can expect the promisee to reasonably rely on, and the promisee does rely on the promise, to his or her detriment, then the promisor will be liable to the promisee. Because Carol gave up her job and moved to another state in reliance on Alpha's promise, if Carol can provide enough evidence to show this promise was made to her, then Alpha will be liable to Carol for her expenses and may even have to reinstate her or pay her for two years' worth of work.

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