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In working with a professional staffing company, I landed a full time job as a specialist with a school district for the remainder of the school year. I had to scramble to get my credentials in order and do all the paperwork they required over the holidays which cost about $200. I was told to start on Monday, Jan 6. In the Fall, I had made travel plans to meet with a family member in need from Jan 7-Jan 13. To accept this job, I cancelled my plans which cost about $120 plus the emotional loss.

I have been waiting every morning to start work for a week. Now, it seems the district has resolved to have me begin next week instead. Question: If I acted with due diligence in preparing all that was required of me to start this position, even cancelling personal plans to honor the employer's start date, was ready and available to work on the date of 1/6/2020 they gave me, would I not have grounds to request compensation for lost wages for the week I was told to begin?

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    Hi Cristy and welcome to the site. Here's an older question that seems similar, does this help you? workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/20034/… – dwizum Jan 10 at 20:02
  • Please add a location tag – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 10 at 20:09
  • Thank you for your comments. In no way, no way-- do I intend to instigate legal proceedings. In past situations of confusion or conflict, it has served me well to be aware of the law as a guideline and what, if any remedies are available. In this way, I can begin respectful dialogue with my employer--not as an angry adversary--but by simply asking questions. School districts have many systems to be aware of and administer simultaneously. I get that and know their job is tough. I believe in diplomacy and respectful communication at all times. – Cristy Jan 10 at 21:37
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Question: If I acted with due diligence in preparing all that was required of me to start this position, even cancelling personal plans to honor the employer's start date, was ready and available to work on the date of 1/6/2020 they gave me, would I not have grounds to request compensation for lost wages for the week I was told to begin?

You can always ask the question, but you might not like the answer.

While this kind of thing is uncommon, it's not unheard of. I've been in the exact same position.

Here's the crux of the matter. In most instances, unless you had the start date in writing, and without any provisions containing something to the effect of "or at management's discretion" or "providing accommodations can be made" I.E. nothing for them to weasel out of it, you have no recourse.

From a pragmatic standpoint, unless the company the agency wants you so bad as to be willing to punish them for losing you, you've got little standing. Usually, employers won't get involved with disputes between you and an agency, and they might bail entirely.

Now, while this situation stinks. The damages are so low, from a legal standpoint, that no ethical lawyer would likely even allow you to put them on retainer.

If this is a job you really want, let the matter drop, as you are in a position where even if you win, it will cost you more than what you have already lost.

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Answers assume the USA as location.

You have a choice to either lawyer up and, maybe, get something (not much, if anything at all) for all your "trouble" (some of it is highly debatable, like emotional loss) and start looking for a new job, after suing your previous one before even working a day. That generally is problematic to explain during an interview, and finding the lawsuit is often enough, one web search away.

Alternatively, you can take a deep breath, calm down and start working on the new starting date. It's a bad sign about the company, and I would certainly start looking for something else, but unless you have another work lined up already this is probably your most pragmatic way going forward. I would probably respond to the postponement email that you understand the confusion and accept it, but also if it will happen again you will expect to receive at least partial payment for that period, in an assertive and friendly tone.

Other methods, like demanding to be paid for the delayed week while also getting to work as nothing has happened are extremely likely to backfire and depending on your contract and local employment laws may simply see you terminated instead. With termination, they may make a payment for a few days of work so they don't have to worry that you will come to sue you for it down the line, but that's it.

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    It's a bad sign about the company in this specific case where the employer seems to be a school district, I think that's a bit of a jump. School districts are often mired in dependencies and bureaucracy when it comes to hiring and start dates, and it's hard to decide that this particular school district deserves a red flag because the start date changed. I do agree with your answer in general though, it forms a good compliment to the answers in the potential dupe, and I'm upvoting. – dwizum Jan 10 at 20:14
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    @dwizum That's fair, I am not familiar with that industry at all, so this is more general advice. – Tymoteusz Paul Jan 10 at 20:15

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