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Q: Rejecting a signed employment offer in California ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: Rejecting a signed employment offer in California
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: ananthd-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 01 Aug 2005 08:35 PDT
Expires: 31 Aug 2005 08:35 PDT
Question ID: 550402
Rejecting a signed employment offer in California.

I signed an offer letter from a different employer B, relocating mainly due to
family reasons. When my present company A, came to know of this, they offered me
a telecommuting package with expenses paid for official visits.

I have therefore decided not pursue the other offer from B.
Can I just call/email company B and let them know about my decision? 
Is there any liability? 

The offer letter does state "at will" employment.
Subject: Re: Rejecting a signed employment offer in California
Answered By: hagan-ga on 01 Aug 2005 10:06 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Assuming that the "offer letter" you signed is a typical example, it
probably does not state a definite term such as one year, five years,
or the like.  I am also assuming that the company has not paid you any
up-front money, such as relocation expenses or a signing bonus.

In that case, you will not be subject to any liability if you write to
them and formally cancel your "employment."  California law provides
that ALL employment is "at will" unless it is for a specified term. 
Labor Code Section 2922:  "An employment, having no specified term,
may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other.
Employment for a specified term means an employment for a period
greater than one month."

There have been cases in California imposing FRAUD liability against
an EMPLOYER, when the employer and employee sign an offer letter, the
employee quits his former job and relocates, and then the employer
immediately terminates the employee.  See, for example, _Agosta v.
Astor_ (2004) 120 Cal.App.4th 596.

But the damages in a case like that arise from the employee's RELIANCE
on the offer letter.  It's a fraud case, not a breach-of-contract
case, and the employee had to prove that the employer never intended
to fulfill the terms of the deal and deliberately misled the employee.
 The employee also had to prove that he had changed his position --
quit his job, paid to relocate, etc. -- on the basis of the employer's

Here, assuming the employer hasn't paid you yet, the employer is going
to have a VERY hard time proving (1) that you deliberately lied when
you signed the agreement and never really intended to go through with
it, and (2) that it suffered any damage as a result of your change of

You should be completely safe.  I would NOT simply call.  I would send
a written letter formally withdrawing from the employment, wishing
them all the best, and so on.  But there is no liability.

If I can provide any further assistance, please don't hesitate to ask.

Request for Answer Clarification by ananthd-ga on 01 Aug 2005 12:42 PDT
Excellent answer. Just a question on the formality of my response:

Would a formal Email to the hiring manager suffice? Or should I type/print and 
mail a response?

I intend to be apolegetic/thankful/contrite and so on.

Thanks again

Clarification of Answer by hagan-ga on 01 Aug 2005 12:50 PDT
An email would be more than sufficient legally.  Just so that you're
totally covered, however, I would make sure that you had a message
receipt for the e-mail.  This is more a "cover all your possible
bases" issue than any kind of legal issue, though.  I would just want
to be able to prove later that they received it on such and such a
date, in case they came back and said "We were expecting you, we never
received any word you weren't coming."  The law doesn't require that,
but it would make me more comfortable.

Best of luck!
ananthd-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $1.00
Comprehensive answer and clarification. Thanks!

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