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So I'll start off with a little back story to this. I was talking to a company about employment since around May, and then I received notice that I would be able to attend this mission trip of sorts and so I asked them if I could start a few months down the road to peruse this trip (the trip was very important to me). The company was actually very open to the idea, and the specific person I was in communication with also mentioned how did the same trip when he was younger, and that was awesome. Within the next few days, they offered the position for me to start in August.

This company sent a signed offer letter with a specific start date, and so I accepted that and replied back with it signed, both parties acknowledged this. The letter specifically states that it's not an employment contract however.

About a week before my start date, I moved to the area, signed a year lease on an apartment, but come the actual start date when I arrived to their offices, they told me that they weren't completely expecting my arrival and that they don't have any space for me or an additional desk, pending some office renovations, and that they'd let me know when the renovations have been completed.

It has no been almost a full month since the original start date, and they've been in touch throughout, but they keep saying that the renovations still haven't been completed and that their expected completion date keeps getting pushed back.

What should I do at this point? I'm running out of the money I've saved up because of rent, food, etc. and this pending offer has put my in kind of a bind.


Alright, so big addition here. I'm not actually the person of which this happened to; this happened to a friend of mine and I'm was asking on behalf of him to try and help him through his situation. But of course, some new details have come out about what actually happened and I no realize that it does say on the bottom of the letter, the instructions are that to confirm the agreement, he must sign and send back before a date (very reasonable date), and he never actually signed the letter and sent it back. Which leads me to believe that this entire question is null and void, as not following the directions and not signing the offer letter, at least to me, make the offer defunct.

closed as off-topic by IDrinkandIKnowThings, Kilisi, Masked Man, keshlam, gnat Sep 16 '16 at 3:46

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    You should be getting paid from the date on your contract, go get your money, it's not your fault they're renovating their premises. – Kilisi Sep 15 '16 at 14:34
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    What money? i'd be shocked that if the contract doesn't stipulate that he's to be paid for work performed, which there has been none. Honestly, this is a legal question anyway. – Chris E Sep 15 '16 at 14:37
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    @Kilisi The offer later does specifically state that it is not an employment contract, but it does state "Please sign a copy of this letter and deliver it back to me by <date> to confirm your acceptance." – anon Sep 15 '16 at 14:45
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    Have they said anything about not going to be paying you? Have you asked them about whether or not you're being paid for this waiting time? – Erik Sep 15 '16 at 14:46
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    If you don't have an actual contract, and you aren't being paid for idling, and they aren't giving you any work to do, I suggest you start looking for an actual job last month. – Erik Sep 15 '16 at 14:48
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An offer letter IS a contract. It doesn't have a lot of the finer details. But there is an offer - "come work for us" - and a consideration - "for X amount of money" - and a specific date. You accepted it, and the offer is legally binding, is enforceable, and you may be able to sue for damages in small claims court, or with an attorney's assistance (I am not an attorney) because they have not performed as agreed; and you have expended yourself in reliance on it.

Think, now. You get stopped by a cop, on the road, for speeding. Try telling the cop that you can't accept a ticket because you've decided that the object you were riding in is no longer called a "vehicle". Mmmmm, not going to work. So likewise, they can't give you a document which is materially a contract, and then say it's not a contract. Poppycock.

Take some legal action NOW.

References:

http://employeeatty.blogspot.com/2011/12/is-my-offer-letter-contract.html

https://www.burnettspecialists.com/blog/post.cfm/because-offer-letters-may-be-deemed-to-be-contracts-of-employment-employers-need-to-be-careful-in-their-drafting-1

http://blog.rhoadssinon.com/are-employment-offer-letters-binding-contracts-under-pennsylvania-law/

https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/5094/is-a-job-offer-letter-sent-and-accepted-by-email-legally-binding

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    An offer letter IS a contract. that is a legal opinion you appear not to be qualified to make. Do you have an references that back up this claim? – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 15 '16 at 16:49
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    How about the contract law class that I sat through for my first year of law school? Does that qualify? – Xavier J Sep 15 '16 at 16:50
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    What if at the bottom, the offer letter states "This letter is not intended to create an employment contract. The Company reserves the right to modify the terms stated above, in its sole discretion." – Brian Leishman Sep 15 '16 at 18:35
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    I don't think a judge would buy it. Especially if the title or first paragraph reads "Offer for Employment". Did you accept in writing? That's pretty much a nail in the coffin. – Xavier J Sep 15 '16 at 19:30
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    Consult an attorney. – Xavier J Sep 15 '16 at 19:33
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Whether or not they were renovating they should have started treating you as an employee, including paying you, from your start date.

The company made a contract with you to start employing you on that date. Renovations are their problem.

If they did not give you any written notification otherwise before you showed up on day one, then on day one you were their employee. If they did not give you any written notification that they are cancelling your employment after that, you are still their employee, and they owe you pay. If you were given written notification on day one, then you can consider yourself terminated on day one. They may owe you some pay in lieu of notice, depending on jurisdiction. You owe them nothing.

My recommendations are:

  1. Immediately start looking for another job. The behaviour is not that of a professional company.
  2. Talk to your lawyer to find out what your rights are. The above is my uninformed non-legal opinion, but I'm confident enough to believe you should ask a lawyer if I am right. A lawyer may be able to recover you a month's backpay, maybe more. If a lawyer can show they made the job offer in bad faith there is a chance you can recover your moving costs.
  3. In the unlikely event that this happens again, make sure you get complete clarity on day one as to whether they are honouring their contract of employment with you. If they say no, treat yourself as having been fired (and they may still owe you money). If they say yes, ask about a) how you are going to be paid and b) how you an continue to work while the renovations are happening.