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United States: Pennsylvania resident, outside of Philadelphia if that matters. Over a week ago I hastily signed a 6 month employment contract pending a drug test and background check. I did tell them I had a misdemeanor from over 15yrs ago and they were fine with that.

I really needed a job and was getting scared, so I accepted said position even though they asked me if I could pick up 30lbs every 5-7 minutes when the contract stated up to 50lbs and I told them yes.

I have back & neck problems so after a lot of thought I want to send them a letter stating all of this, plus I was offered another position offering me not only more money, but also benefits and I wouldn't have to lift anything.

I'm worried they will come after me because I'm not going to give them 2 weeks like it says I need to in my contract, although they can fire me at will with no explanation... I don't know what to do, I can't afford a lawyer or to pay this company for 2 weeks pay.

Even if I didn't take this other job, I wouldn't really want to work this job, because of the lifting. I don't want to injure myself, but if I don't tell them in this letter that I was offered another position, I am afraid they will offer me another job, but who knows if they'll even get back to me. It's been a week today and I know for a fact they got the drug test results that day and I really doubt it takes long for a background check.

I saw somewhere about putting the job industry in here and it's only data entry but it's medical information apparently if that helps. I mean I made a mistake, I was scared and felt trapped into taking this, as it was all that was offered at said time, but now over a week later and they haven't even contacted me. Please advise, thank you all in advance. Here is what I could find in my contract about cancelling:

  1. Termination. You are employed by the company on “At-Will Basis”. You agree that at least two weeks advance notice by you is reasonable and necessary under such circumstances due to the substantial effort, time and expense the Company will be required to incur in employing you and in replacing your services. If you leave the assignment without giving 15 days prior notice you will be liable to pay these days. By any chance if client terminates your contract we will also end your assignment.

Could someone please tell me if I would be liable to pay anything to these people and what should I include in my letter?

  • I am not a lawyer, but what does it say about paying them if you get fired? You could plausibly just go in, refuse to do anything, and just get terminated immediately. – Matthew Gaiser Nov 9 '19 at 7:02
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    Please break down your wall of text into readable paragraphs. – nvoigt Nov 9 '19 at 8:32
  • Fail the drug test, just put some blue water from the toilet bowl into the pee cup you're supposed to pee in. – Stephan Branczyk Nov 9 '19 at 11:05
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Could someone please tell me if I would be liable to pay anything to these people and what should I include in my letter?

Only a lawyer and time will tell you if you would actually be required to pay this employer anything due to not giving the required notice.

That said, it's seems extremely unlikely to me.

Give your notice immediately so that you mitigate any "loss" on the employer's part. Then don't worry.

Since you haven't actually started working there yet, it's unlikely the company has actually expended any substantial effort, time or expense. I strongly suspect they'll just let it drop.

Next time around, don't commit to something you aren't actually committed to. Don't sign contracts you aren't willing to fulfill.

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If a company wants money from you for quitting, they have lost all my sympathy.

You give them notice. And when they ask you to pick up fifty pounds, you say that you can't do that. You have health problems that don't allow you to pick up more than 20 pounds. They can't force you. If they try to make you lift fifty pounds, after you told them you have health problems, and you get hurt, they would be in unbelievably deep shit. So if they try to force you, ask them if they are willing to pay your medical bills.

They can fire you, of course. Which is what you want.

PS. A question on law.stackexchange.com received an answer that the contract would be enforceable. So the obvious advice: Don't leave (but give the required 15 days notice immediately, so after 15 days everything is over). Make them fire you.

PPS. Ha. A further answer on law.stackexchange.com reveals that they cannot deduct so much money that you would get less than minimum wage for every hour worked. Since you haven't worked at all, they cannot deduct anything from your salary and make it negative. If you work for minimum wage, they can't deduct anything. If you had worked 20 hours for minimum wage + $1 per hour, they could take $20 from you, not more. Summary: You don't have to pay them anything.

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Frankly you are in quite an unenviable position. Signing a bad employment contract that you're forced into out of your own circumstances is quite dejecting. However, if you sign an employment contract, you take on certain obligations to your employer.

  1. You've told the employer you have no issues with lifting 30 lbs constantly (if 50 lbs was a subject of the conversation is not clear, but it is in the contract). If you've lied about your ability to do the job as described in the contract, that is entirely a problem you created.

  2. You've terminated your contract ahead of time, and your employment contract has a pretty clear stipulation regarding your liability.

Keeping that in mind, there are 2 realistic outcomes:

  1. You get fired and never hear from the company again.

  2. Your employer accepts your resignation and you become liable to pay for the 15 contractually obligated days and/or for the costs of the background check and drug test (though they may be barred from incurring those costs on you by your local laws).

However, if you have not terminated your contract yet:

Contact your employer and explain the situation. If they have not spent any time on you beyond the pre-employment paperwork, they might offer you an easy resolution. Though I would likely avoid talking about the difference between your current and your planned future employer.

Chances are you will have to work the contractually obligated minimum period regardless if you wish to avoid paying the 15 day liability.

Please note that your contract may have other stipulations regarding employment termination. Read your contract thoroughly.

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What am I liable for if I send a letter rescinding an employment contract i signed?

Succinctly, you are liable for whatever the contract stipulates in case of resignation; within the limitations of the law if your culture has laws to limit these demands.

Some cultures (e.g. mine) disallow any notice period that is longer than the time having been employed. E.g. if you quit after a week, you can only be expected to serve up to one week's notice. Whether this applies to your culture, I don't know.

Additionally, while contracts make precise stipulations, that doesn't mean the company invariably will follow these stipulations. Contracts effectively apply only in cases where both parties (you and the company) cannot come to a mutual agreement.

Contact the company and explain to them that you are rescinding the contract. Explain your reasoning and either propose to not serve a notice period or ask the company how they wish to proceed. If the company makes any request that you don't feel happy or comfortable with, consult your contract and your local legislature to see if you can object to their request.

I have back & neck problems

While this is again dependent on your culture, you may be able to avoid the heavy lifting work on a medical basis even if the company is making you serve the two weeks. Consult your local laws regarding medical issues.

If you leave the assignment without giving 15 days prior notice you will be liable to pay these days.

To the letter of the contract, you won't even be asked to work, you'll be asked to pay. That at least means that you don't have to worry about injuring yourself, but you should worry about the financial aspect. That being said, the company might instead offer for you to work 15 days unpaid, which is effectively the same as you paying them for 15 days not worked (from the company's financial point of view).

Regardless, the same advice applies in either case, check with the company if they are willing to let you walk away from this. In case they are not willing to dissolve the contract, look up your local legislation, to find out if resignation periods apply to employment that has not taken place yet.

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