I need to know where I stand with this issue. I was offered a job with a company, they sent me an offer letter, I accepted. I passed the tox screen test and the background check. I was to start on Monday 1/28/08.

They called me yesterday, the HR director and told me that the he would need to rescind the offer letter due to the position is going away. Now, after I gave my two week notice here, they have already filled my position and I am out on the street. What can I do about this?

My first instinct was to go and tell you to beg for your previous job back, but I see that they have already filled it. (This, in and of itself, is highly unusual. It rarely takes less than two weeks to fill a position.)

But, I still encourage you to go and beg for your job back–not to take it from the new person, but if there happens to be another position available at your old company, it wouldn’t hurt to ask for it. You’ve proven yourself as a good employee there, so they might take you up on it.

The thing you have going against you is that you’ve pretty well demonstrated that you want to leave. Some bosses don’t take to kindly to that.

So, let’s say this doesn’t work out and you are still unemployed. First things first you start networking like mad and pounding the pavement to find a new job. Thing are basically going to stink until you find one. When you interview for a new job and they ask why you left your old one explain what happened. Everyone will have lots of sympathy for you.

Now, as to the company which rescinded the offer. You could threaten legal action. They made the offer in “bad faith” you could argue. This means that they knew there was a chance that the position as going away, but they chose to offer it to you anyway. You may be able to get a small settlement from them, but I doubt it. Ask for a month’s pay and see if they cough it up to get you to go away.

And HR People out there, don’t do this. If you are so out of tune with the business you need to fix that, so you know what is going on. You should NEVER be extending offers to people when there is a possibility of a position elimination or reorganization coming up that will affect this new position. Yes, yes, no one has a crystal ball. However, you should know that an offer you make TODAY will still have an available position in two weeks. This is unacceptable behavior.

Yes, I know, you don’t have a seat at the table and no one told you this. Or you are staffing and the HR Business Partner didn’t tell you. I still have no sympathy for you. This is your JOB. Figure out how to do it or get a new job.

I once read an “ethical” dilemma about an HR VP who knew layoff talks were coming off and she was asked to sign off on a new hire that would require relocation. Should she tell people that there was a possibility of this position being eliminated, or should she go ahead and sign off?

The “correct” answer was to go ahead and sign off, as to not violate the confidence of senior management. I fully disagree. Remember the “human” part of of HR? You post-pone the hire, even if it means losing the candidate.

Yes, there are numerous reasons not to blab about a potential reduction before the time is right. But, you can put a particular position on hold without spilling the rest of the beans.

And before HR people come here and write comments in ALL CAPS to show how wrong I am, and to blame it on the managers, what were you training your managers in? A Barn? This is bad for business and bad for your company. Bad Faith is bad business. HR and managers need to be operating as a team. No manager should be extending an offer that he means to rescind later.

I’m about to start writing in all caps to show my displeasure, but I’m a professional so I won’t.

Back to the original problem. Find a new job. Do your best to check out a new company before you start working for them–although things like this are hard to predict.

Good luck.

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15 thoughts on “A Rescinded Offer

  1. I’m sorry… I know I am not the grammar police… but I had to laugh. Because you wrote “what were you training your mangers in? A Barn?” and I loved it because I a)make that typo, too, and b) thought this was almost, maybe, deliberate. Love your blog. Thanks for the insight (as ever)…

  2. I hate that my spell checker only checks if words are spelled right and doesn’t check to see if I really meant that!

    I did correct it, so no one else gets to read it.

  3. Companies that do this are incredibly short-sighted. It doesn’t just impact the new hire — other employees see it and draw conclusions about how the company treats people … which affects morale and even more tangible things, like how much notice someone is willing to give.

  4. From a legal standpoint, this individual may have a case for more than bad faith. Most states have a doctrine of promissory estoppel. A promise was made to an individual, the individual took reasonable steps to his detriment, and then the promise was revoked. But the lawsuit to prove this will cost about fifty times more than you will get. Good luck.

  5. I can’t understand why any management would not have line of sight into a possible re-org two weeks away. The only scenario I can think of is a company that may be overly dependent on certain clients or contracts coming in for business, and something went awry where a client (or clients) pulled out last minute. This story highlights all the more reason to exit a company gracefully and never burn your bridges.

  6. What a difficult situation for you, I sympathize. You didn’t say who made the job offer to you though? I’m wondering if the line manager made the offer to you unknowingly aware of the upcoming re-org, and then HR had to “clean up the mistake”? The HR Director should be instrumental in any type of re-org, and should also be involved in all employment offers (to avoid this very situation!), but as Evil said, HR is not always as it should be in a company. I quite enjoyed Evil’s rant on incompetent HR people/departments so I’ll just leave it at that. lol!

    I agree, you should call and ask for a month’s salary, explaining that you had already put in your notice elsewhere, they filled your job, and you have a written letter of offer in your hand confirming the job offer. I would be surprised if they weren’t waiting for you to ask. I have no doubt that someone there is having major pangs of guilt over your situation, not to mention, expectations of legal action.

  7. Begging back the previous job is possibly one of the good moves, I guess.

    But I would say the person in the middle of the street should ask him/herself “WHY”. There might not be a “problem” with him/her but that being turned down after being given an offer may imply: (1) the company had a MUCH better candidate (it’s BS for “that position is going away); (2) he/she needs to be more equipped.

  8. Another HR rep wrote: The only scenario I can think of is a company that may be overly dependent on certain clients or contracts coming in for business, and something went awry where a client (or clients) pulled out last minute. This story highlights all the more reason to exit a company gracefully and never burn your bridges.

    That makes sense, but there are procedures for dealing with that. They’re called *conditional* offers of employment. You let the person know up front that you want to hire them, but that their actually getting the job hinges on a contract coming in. The official offer letter isn’t given until whatever it hinges on has been determined.

    I work in government contracting, so those are pretty common here. (A lot of the time, you have to have resumes in order to bid on work, so people are hired knowing that they’ll get the job only if the company gets the contract.)

    In the non-contracting world, I’m sure conditional offers would be less common, but maybe they should be used if the situation calls for it.

  9. I'm about 2 years late to this conversation, but a similar scenario happened to me. I was offered a position by the Director. Then the Director "resigned" as it was sketchily explained to me later. The person I was slated to replace decided to stay because she was only leaving due to "irreconcilable" differences with the Director who would no longer be there anyway.

    They tried to offer me a lesser 90-day temporary job. I all but told them where to shove it. Success and living well is the best revenge. Glad I avoided that clusterf*** of problems. I was annoyed by the whole situation and eventually found another job.

  10. I have a similar situation. I went for a second interview yesterday (Thursday) and in the course of the interview I was offered the job and was asked to start on Monday. When I got home I thanked the hiring manager for the offer letter and also told them that I have a trip planned for June/July for 3 weeks. This morning, I receive an email with a letter taking back the offer because I did not disclose the vacation. I told them that I am willing to change my travel plans, but they said their decision is final. Similar story happened to someone else I know, who received an offer, made a counter offer and they took back the original offer. Is it not common to negotiate in today's market? I understand this is an "employer's market", but is any negotiation off limits nowadays?

  11. Thank you for your blog. I was called by a SVP of HR today who pulled the unsympathetic robot act and told me that it was a simple business decision and they have decided that they will not be filling the role they had offered me. She then had the nerve to tell me how hard it was for her to make the call. I was forced to inform her that being pregnant, now not having a job and no health insurance, and having just resigned from my career at a fortune 500 company, actually made it a little harder on my end of the phone. I realize it's not her fault, but she could have acted a little more HUMAN in this instance. I wish I had some recourse, but she informed me that they had zero obligation to me despite the accepted offer letter. She admitted that mistakes had been made and that the offer shouldn't have been given, but maybe that means she needs to get a little better at her job. I know it's just a business decision for her, but it's my life!

  12. I was just informed the promotion I received was just rescinded. I was given no answer to why but I have since heard the organization has budgetary issues they are trying to address. I have never heard of this happening and neither had the Manager who promoted me. I am now still working my previous job and all of my colleagues are still congratulating me wondering when I will leave to start my new job. I really do not know what to say and neither does my boss. The Manager that was promoting me has sence called to say she will do whatever she can to assist me in applying for other internal positions. I am still speecheless

  13. It’s 2013 now, and this happened to me. It occurred at company with about 40,000 employees. The HR rep and the director (hiring manager) said they were as surprised as me. The decision came from “higher ups”

  14. I think begging for your old job back would be an even worse decision than lawyering up. Assuming they even take you back, the reasons for why you left in the first place will still be there and you will be back to the same situation spinning your wheels. To add to the dilemma, now the company and your boss know you’re a “flight risk”, and you will likely not receive any good assignments or consideration for promotion. You will be a pariah in the office for the borrowed time you have until they boot you once and for all when they find the replacement they started looking for when you originally gave your notice.

    Save yourself a lot of grief and stress and move on. You have a legitimate reason to be unemployed that will not count against you, and in fact may win you sympathy as stated in the article. Also, if you’ve been smart and saving your money like you should’ve been doing all along, you can fall back on your F-U money to keep the bills paid until you land that new job.

  15. It’s pretty sad this is still relevant EIGHT years later. I was just hired yesterday at a hospital, finialized everything, even handed a badge at 8am. At 1pm I received a VOICEMAIL rescinding the offer, no reason given, and my calls were not taken. This is a hospital where I have great relationships with many colleagues and they all really wanted me to work there. I don’t have preexisting relationships with the HR folks, but I am aware the HR department has had massive turnover over the last three years. I gave my notice to my employer because I had an offer letter, preemployment testing done, a badge in hand, it was pretty darn settled.

    I don’t know if folks who do this respect the damage you can do to someone’s career and life, not to mention their reputation. My employer will NOT take me back, as they recently promoted me and are insulted I chose to leave. While I am not a vindictive person and will certainly behave professionally and not sink to the level of my would-have-been employers, I certainly will not be using this hospital for any of my medical needs anymore (we were high utilizers, and there is some very good competition down the street). I certainly cannot recommend this hospital to the students I supervise, the colleges I advise students for careers for, my colleages looking for work, or anyone seeking employment in a hospital. I would just recommend the other local competitors who haven’t done horrible things to me.

    Five minutes of inconsideration, I suspect not doing the checks or processes that maybe should have been done before I was fully hired, have led to my career being temporarily derailed. Everyone lost here. The hospital lost a great employee. I’m a hard worker and sought after by folks in the building. I will potentially be unemployed, lost my good standing with my current employer, where I could have stayed indefinitely while stealth job searching, and had promotional opportunities. If they didn’t want me, a simple tossing of my resume in the trash or a “no, thanks” would have sufficed.

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