When Can a Company Withdraw a Job Offer?

When an Employer Can Take Back a Job You Have Accepted

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Many job applicants wonder if their job offer is set in stone once it has been extended. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case. What happens if you have already accepted a new job and the employer decides they don't want to hire you?

Reasons Employer Can Withdraw a Job Offer

Organizations can withdraw a job offer for virtually any reason, although there can be legal consequences in some situations.

 Most states – except Montana – have employment-at-will statutes, which allow employers to fire an employee under most circumstances.  These laws are generally applied to rescinded job offers as well. 

When prospective employees fail criminal background checks, misrepresent their background or fail a drug test, there is often no legal recourse if an offer was rescinded based on those discoveries.  If an employer can justify revoking an offer because the company can't reasonably accommodate a disability, the company may also be able to rescind an offer to a disabled candidate. 

Moreover, organizations who can document changes in economic conditions, such as decreased earnings, are generally able to withdraw job offers without suffering any legal consequences. 

Reasons a Job Offer Should Not be Withdrawn

However, employers can't withdraw an offer for discriminatory reasons such as race, religion, gender, age or national origin, and job applicants may be able to obtain legal protection if they feel they have been discriminated against.

As a precaution, candidates should wait until they have met all contingencies listed in a formal job offer prior to submitting a resignation at their current job, selling their home, signing a lease or incurring other moving expenses.

What to Do If Your Job Offer is Withdrawn

In some states, candidates may have grounds for a lawsuit claiming damages if they suffer consequences as a result of a withdrawn offer.

 In these cases, the plaintiff needs to show damages, such as moving costs incurred or lost income from a job they quit after receiving the job offer.

 If you think you might have a case, you should consult a lawyer in your state and make sure that the attorney has won similar cases and is willing to be compensated on a contingency basis. 

Here's more information on what to do if your job offer is withdrawn.

Related Articles: Can an Employer Withdraw a Job Offer if You Counter Offer? | What is Employment at Will? | Exceptions to Employment at Will

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