It is not unusual for people to enter into various agreements with others but fail or neglect to have those agreements down in writing. Under New York and other state laws, an employment agreement must be in writing in order to be enforced, but there are exceptions that could be made.
Employment Without a Written Agreement
In certain cases, an employer may, in good faith, extend a job offer to you, but due to changed economic circumstances or other reasons, the employer either withdraws the offer before you report to work or terminates your employment soon thereafter. If either occurs, then the issue becomes whether you have any recourse against that employer.
Statute of Frauds
To resolve the issue of whether an employer has rightly withdrawn an offer of employment or has properly terminated your employment, the first thing to do is determine whether the Statute of Frauds applies.
Under New York law, every agreement, promise, or undertaking is void, unless it is in writing and signed by the person against whom a claim is made. The only exception is if the agreement, promise, or undertaking is for something that is not to be performed within one year of the agreement being made.
So, the first question to be answered in your case is whether the employment offered was for less or more than one year. If the employer verbally offered you a job for two years, for example, and you accepted the offer, you cannot enforce that agreement in New York because it is not in writing.
However, this does not mean that you can enforce the employment agreement if the offer you accepted was for less than one year. The difference is that the matter is employment related. New York is an “at-will” employment state, which means that all employment not under a written contract is at will. Either the employer or employee can terminate at-will employment at any time for any reason—including no reason—as long as antidiscrimination laws are not violated.
A Manhattan Employment Lawyer Can Help
At Watford Jackson, PLLC, we have more than 40 years of experience handling a variety of issues and our lawyers know how to handle complex employment law cases such as when does employment begin and how can it be terminated. If you have received an offer of employment you have accepted, but the employer is not allowing you to start working, contact an experienced New York City employment law attorney at our office. We will evaluate your case and give you proper advice. Call 1-855-WAT-JACK or 1-855-928-5225 for an appointment.