I just got a job offer in January for an IT position in a good company. Am out of work, so I need the job. It's a good company and a pretty good offer (though a little less on base pay than my previous gig). They had sweetened the deal a little with extra vacation and, I thought, bonus eligibility/payout in a few months (since it was the first of the year).

However, a few days after the offer, the company called and said they messed up the date for the bonus in the letter. It should have read the next year rather than the current year (i.e., next year vs. a few months after starting).

I pushed back a little, but, they said there is nothing they can do. My issue is that it was an offer in writing, it was accepted in writing, and now they are changing it after the fact and asking for my 'understanding'. I do understand, but, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth if you know what I mean.

I'm not trying to be overly dramatic here, but, I also don't want to be a pushover. The overriding factor is that I really need the job and I think it should be a good company/job even with the slight pay cut.


UPDATE: Thank you all. Just in line with what I was thinking... It was a clerical error and I understand, but, was weighing that against the 'it was an offer and what if the roles were reversed' and 'didn't want to be a pushover' kind of thing. Thanks much again.

And, yes, it should be a good job and am hoping that will outweigh this little glitch.

It is in an "employment at will" state, so, they can rescind the offer at any time with no repercussions and as one answer pointed out, I wouldn't want to come in with a rep of being difficult. It was just a little annoying to have something in the offer yanked out afterward with nothing other than 'sorry, our mistake'. It's a large company, so, a little good faith compensation wouldn't even be noticed on their bottom line.

BTW, I think it was more the principle of the thing that bothered me. It was a done deal and I would never back out of something like that even if it was an honest mistake and it cost me. At least not without discussing with the other party and coming to an agreement on some sort of restitution to maintain good faith and the relationship.

Thanks again for everyone's responses. They were all very helpful.

(UPDATE): Took the job. It has been a good company. Received a promotion at 1 year and an 11% pay increase (along with a large bonus). Followed later by another (small) pay increase... So, they have made good and things are going well and my manager is frequently asking if I am satisfied and if I need anything from him.

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    Maybe not helpful, but "right to work" means that you can't be forced to join a union as a job requirement (which makes it harder for unions to recruit employees). What you are thinking of is "at will" which means that for workers who don't have a contract, the employment relationship can be terminated at any time by either party for any reason or no reason at all (except for reasons covered by protected classes) Jan 16, 2018 at 0:50
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    One important legal point: in the US, there is a huge distinction between an "employment contract" and an "offer letter". Very few US jobs have actual legally enforceable employment contracts (upper management and commission-sales positions are the most common exceptions). In IT, I pretty much guarantee that was an "offer letter" with fine print "this is not a contract, employment can be revoked by either party at any time".
    – BradC
    Jan 16, 2018 at 17:49
  • Original OP here: @BradC, you are correct, offer only. Completely revocable at any time by either party. Just like 'at will' employment... Welcome to the US and the land of the protected employee... Ahem... ;) Jan 16, 2018 at 19:38
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    For anyone else that might read this and might be in a similar but not necessarily identical situation that while a company can rescind an offer at anytime, they still have legal responsibilities once they extend the offer. If you as an individual take actions in good faith based on that offer, such as quitting a job or relocating, the company is definitely liable for damages. I know one person who recovered relocation expenses to and from the city of business plus 3 months salary over just such an incident. It is definitely worth contacting an employment attorney. Jan 16, 2018 at 19:49
  • Thank you Justin, very good point. This situation was nowhere near that egregious. They contacted me within a few days of the offer to inform me of the mistake and that a new offer letter would be forthcoming. My biggest issue was mostly the 'principle' of the thing. i.e., you stand behind your word. From my side though, there is also the need to be understanding and a bigger person. It is just an unfortunate incident that puts me (and them) in a slightly unpleasant position. Jan 16, 2018 at 20:44

4 Answers 4


Take the job, wait it out and see what happens.

I had a similar "oops" happen to me at my present position. It turns out that the other benefits to working here far outweigh the "oops".

Do NOT push back anymore. Take this as the opportunity it is. At worst, this is a springboard to your next position, at best, the job could turn out to be far more satisfying than you thought.

Also, even though the offer was in writing, clerical errors occur. If they had misplaced a decimal and had the offer for 10x what the salary should have been, you wouldn't expect them to honor that would you?

Don't try to rules-lawyer over an honest mistake or you will regret it, and it's a bad thing to do regardless. You don't want to have the offer rescinded or go in and have the reputation of being "difficult" from day one.

  • With errors, deliberate or not, the main option you have is to not sign the new offer. The only way to "force" the old contract is to sue them, but that will not work in your favor in almost all situations.
    – Nelson
    Jan 16, 2018 at 6:44
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    If the (potential) employee had made a clerical error, would the company be equally understanding? I somehow doubt it. Signed contract is signed contract, to be changed only with mutual agreement. Jan 16, 2018 at 9:06
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    Additionally at least in Civil Law countries, you can't hold someone to agreements made in error (written or in any other another form). However, the party who made the error is liable for the damages that the error incurred to the other party. In your case the damage is likely none unless you forwent a better offer in favour of the erroneous one from this company. I don't know about Common Law. Jan 16, 2018 at 12:44
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    @DavidFoerster : Errors have to be "obvious" to not be binding - so a x10 salary would count; a bonus eligibility this month, probably not. OTOH it is typical that a job offer comes with a one to three (possibly longer) probation period. During the probation period the notice is often one week - the OP doesn't want the employer to decide "not worth it" and give him his notice before he starts. Jan 16, 2018 at 15:52
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    @MartinBonner: No, this applies to all types of errors, even inobiovus ones. It's legally impossible to enter agreements into which you didn't mean to enter at the time (assuming honest, non-malicious mistakes and misunderstandings only) – but you may be liable for damages from the confusion caused by the mistake. Of course, in practice you may need to convince a judge of your true intent at the time of the (faulty) agreement. At least that's what I learned in my Civil Law course (in Germany but this fundamental stuff is largely the same in continental Europe according to the professor). Jan 16, 2018 at 16:08

First, never take a job based on a benefit that may or may not ever be paid like a bonus. Next, mistakes happen, that doesn't mean that the company is evil. It is better in the long run for you to assume an honest mistake that immediately go to the idea that this is some sort of nefarious plot to bring down the workers.

If you need the job, take it and be happy to have a job. This sort of thing is likely not within the control of the person who will be your boss, so don't let it make you think he will be bad or the job will be bad. An HR person made a typo, that is all that happened. And it's not like you are tied to this job forever.

  • um, considering jobs based on a bonus covers a large number of people - IB, sales, management, PE. Saying to not take a job based on a bonus is pretty crazy
    – bharal
    Feb 25, 2018 at 16:13
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    No it is not. Bonuses do not have to be paid out (unlike commissions). If the salary without the bonus isn't high enough. look elsewhere.
    – HLGEM
    Feb 27, 2018 at 14:36

While I agree in general with the other comments, I am curious -- were those conditions that they used to recruit you? Would you have not signed off on the offer if that condition hadn't been there? I find that important because if part of what attracted you to the job is gone, then that may lead to resentment of the job down the road, especially if more "oops" happen down the road. In general, agreed with the others, don't push back too hard and ruin your opportunity if you really need the job, but if you would've passed otherwise, or if they lured you with benefits that don't match what you're going to receive, I'd say keep looking. At the end of the day, do what's best for your situation. Good Luck!

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    This is more of a comment than an answer, the only answer you do provide is you agreeing to other people's answers, so overall very superfluous
    – Draken
    Jan 15, 2018 at 18:35
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    I am the OP, and he has a point. No, I would not have passed otherwise, but, I did notice the item, and felt it was a good thing on their part to offer it since they were coming in a little lower than what I was making before. Then to have it yanked like that was just a little offensive (maybe too strong a word, but, it definitely didn't seem right)... I just believe you should keep your word and even if you screw up due to your own mistake, then the you should either honor that or offer something else in good faith in return. Jan 15, 2018 at 22:57

IMO don't take the job. Best case scenario you are dealing with a sloppy employer that doesn't even bother correcting their mistakes to potential employees. What most people today don't understand is that with IT, you are in a buyer's market, where the workforce not the employers drive the market. Furthermore, tech companies do extensive research before they call you for an interview. If you have social networks accounts with recent activity, they will know who you are, what you do, how you dress, talk, look like, what your hobbies are, who your friends are etc. They will have most likely profiled you and contacted previous employers. Although illegal, they might have also acquired financial information from previous employers about your pay, hence their "slightly less" than expected offer.

Bluntly speaking, your employer is most likely trying to use all available means at their disposal for getting as much work for as little pay as they can. Changing a written offer after it was accepted is one of those means. If you accept it, no one can fault you. Just know you are being played.

Assuming your employer is not doing all that and what you see is just an honest mistake, why didn't they try to make amends for it somehow? Why are they not giving you more payed vacation to make up for the money they won't pay you this year? They have many ways to woo a possible candidate, they just decided to not use any in your case. The question you should be asking them is why.

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