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Ask The Lawyer By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.

| January 8, 2018

AFTER QUITTING OLD JOB AND MOVING TO NEW TOWN, NEW HIRE ISN’T WORKING OUT

QUESTION: We recently hired a woman who appeared to be an excellent candidate for an upper level position with our firm: She had been doing similar work for a well-known company, and had several years of relevant experience. We offered her a position, she quit her old job and moved to Michigan. Problem is, after six weeks, she is not working out. I would like to replace her with the second-runner up, but I’m told I’m stuck with her because she relied on our offer, and incurred expenses, which created a binding contract instead of an “at will” relationship.

ANSWER: The kind of contract you are talking about is a contract by “promissory estoppel,” a legal principle that holds a promise can be enforceable – even without a contract — if the person to whom the promise was made relied on it to his or her detriment. The elements of promissory estoppel are “(1) a promise (2) that the promisor should reasonably have expected to induce action of a definite and substantial character on the part of the promise and (3) that, in fact, produced reliance or forbearance of that nature (4) in circumstances requiring enforcement of the promise if injustice is to be avoided.” Zaremba Equip, Inc v Harco Nat’l Ins Co, 280 Mich App 16, 41 (2008). But, to Michigan’s Courts, leaving a job and relocating are “customary and necessary incidents of changing jobs” and, without more, do not support a claim of “promissory estoppel.”

That’s the good news. However, if there was a clear and definite promise of continued employment – even if the promise was oral – you might still be on the hook. You could be required to keep the new hire on for a period of time that would be consistent with any verbal assurances on which she relied, or you might have to pay her reasonable relocation and other expenses.

Before you take any action, you should talk to an experienced attorney. The lawyers at GWINN LEGAL PLLC are experienced attorneys and are happy to answer your questions. Give us a call for a free initial telephone consultation about your legal needs. For consideration of your questions in our web column, please submit your inquiry on the “Contact Us” page of our website at www.gwinnlegal.com.

Information provided on “Ask the Lawyer” is current as of the date of publication. Laws and their interpretation are subject to change. The material provided through “Ask the Lawyer” is informational only; it should not be considered legal advice. Submitting a question to “Ask the Lawyer” does not create an attorney-client relationship between the person submitting the question and GWINN LEGAL PLLC. To view previous columns, please visit our website.

Information provided on “Ask the Lawyer” is current as of the date of publication. Laws and their interpretation are subject to change. The material provided through “Ask the Lawyer” is informational only; it should not be considered legal advice. Submitting a question to “Ask the Lawyer” does not create an attorney-client relationship between the person submitting the question and GWINN LEGAL PLLC. To view previous columns, please visit our website.

ASK THE LAWYER

By: Daniel A. Gwinn, Esq.

Attorney and Counselor at Law
GWINN LEGAL PLLC
901 Wilshire Drive, Suite 550
Troy, MI 48084
(248) 247-3300
(248) 247-3310 facsimile
daniel@gwinnlegal.com
www.gwinnlegal.com

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