Rescinding Job Offers

Editor's Note: Use caution when withdrawing an employment offer.

Melissa A. SilverOverview: In order to limit potential exposure to damages, if an employer determines an employment offer must be withdrawn, the employer should do so as early as possible, preferably before the offer has been accepted. Depending on when the employment offer is rescinded, an employer may be exposed to damages.

For instance, if an applicant has already indicated his or her acceptance to an employment offer, the employer may be subject to a legal claim if the offer is withdrawn. In particular, in some states, if the applicant has accepted the offer and has relied upon the offer to his or her detriment, such as by giving notice to a former employer or by relocating, the employer may be exposed to damages. Therefore, employers should carefully consider this exposure when making the decision to withdraw the offer.

If a job offer is rescinded based on the results of a preemployment screening measure, such as a credit check, reference check, medical exam, or drug test, employers must ensure that the offer is withdrawn in compliance with federal and/or state laws.

However, in all instances, if a job offer is withdrawn employers should not only verbally inform the applicant, but should also notify him or her in writing. That way there is no misunderstanding regarding the status of the offer. If a written employment contract exists, the job offer should be rescinded in accordance with the terms of the contract.

Trends: At least one court has held that employers should carefully consider the advice and opinions of third parties on whether an applicant's disability affects his or her ability to perform a job before withdrawing a conditional job offer. Otherwise, if an employer takes an adverse action based on a third party's general assessment, such as withdrawing an employment offer, it can be exposed to an ADA claim.

Author: Melissa A. Silver, JD, Legal Editor

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