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Promissory Estoppel

Employment Attorneys Fight Bait-and-Switch Hiring Tactics in NJ and NY

Actions for promissory estoppels net fair compensation for lost opportunities

A job interview shouldn’t be a shell game. You’re being upfront about your experience, education and other qualifications; your prospective employer should be transparent about the job duties, title, compensation and perquisites. But too often, employers offer inducements only to retract them come contract time. By then, you’ve given notice at your old job and may have passed on other opportunities. At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., we want you to know you have rights. If you relied on a job offer, and have been harmed, your potential employer may be liable for damages on the theory of promissory estoppel.

How the theory of promissory estoppels serves jilted jobseekers

As a job seeker, you may have certain rights even before you sign a contract.

  • Promises made before the contract — Ideally, you should sign your new contract before giving notice to your current employer, but the prospective employer may have several excuses for delaying the formal signing that sound reasonable at the time. Under these circumstances, a promise of employment that induces you to give notice becomes binding on your prospective employer when you notify your current employer. The actions you take because you are relying on the new employer’s promise may allow you to enforce the agreement in court or recover the associated damages.
  • Promises not contained in the contract — Suppose you’re asked to sign a contract that does not completely memorialize your understanding with your new employer. You ask about the missing points and are told, “Don’t worry, we’ve got a separate agreement for that.” You sign the contract, but the company later claims its policy has changed, so you think you’re out of luck regarding those particular terms. Not quite. Again, you have a right to hold the employer legally responsible for those promises.

The promissory estoppels scenarios described are only a few examples.  If someone makes promises to get you to enter into an agreement, you may have additional rights that you should consult an attorney about.

Damages for broken promises during the recruiting process

Traditionally, promissory estoppels forced promisors to deliver on their word. So, if you were hired as vice president of a department and were told your first day you’d instead be a team lead, promissory estoppels would compel the company to make you VP. However, obvious problems may arise when trying to use this law to remedy misrepresentation. What about the current vice president? And would compelling the company to change personnel be too disruptive to operations? Today, courts prefer to order monetary awards for things such as loss of income and damage to a career for being forced to take a demotion. If the employer’s behavior is particularly egregious, a judge may also award punitive damages. At Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., we have successfully managed cases for employees who suffered losses as a result of relying on an employer’s promises. As one of New Jersey’s leading employment litigation law firms, we’re here to help you as well.

Contact a leading NJ law firm to seek compensation for promises made during job recruitment

If you are a victim of recruitment bait-and-switch, contact the NJ employment lawyers of Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. Our firm has offices in Bergen County, New Jersey, Rockland County, New York and Manhattan. Call us today at 551-245-8894 or online. We offer a confidential phone consultation.

Neil  H.  Deutsch Attorney Photo
Neil H. Deutsch

About Neil H. Deutsch has been practicing law for over 35 years and is known as a skilled negotiator in employment and discrimination law. He believes in a bottom-line approach of risk analysis and cost effectiveness for his clients. "Case evaluation is something we take seriously," says Mr. Deutsch who seeks top net dollar for…

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Bruce L. Atkins
Senior Partner

About Bruce L. Atkins is regarded as one of New Jersey’s premier practitioners of employment and civil litigation. He has been selected to the New Jersey Super Lawyers prestigious list every year since 2005.  This honor, bestowed upon a recipient by the votes of his peers, is a powerful nod to the skill Mr. Atkins…

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Adam J. Kleinfeldt

About Adam J. Kleinfeldt joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in March of 2015.  He primarily represents individuals in employment litigations such as discrimination, retaliation, and whistle blowing matters.  He has extensive experience in all phases of the litigation process. Adam has obtained significant results for some of his clients, including a $525,000 jury verdict…

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Diane Englander Peyser

About Diane Englander Peyser joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in September 2018 where she represents employees in wrongful termination, retaliation, harassment, and discrimination matters. Prior to joining Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C., Diane represented clients in all aspects of employment law on behalf of employees involving unemployment appeals, claims of sexual harassment, LGBT discrimination,…

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Debra M. McGarvey

About Debra M. McGarvey joined Deutsch Atkins & Kleinfeldt, P.C. in December 2019. She has extensive experience defending employees and employers in state and federal court in employment litigation matters. She has represented clients on various issues arising out of the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD), the New Jersey Conscientious Employee Protection Act (CEPA),…

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