Employers must exercise caution when withdrawing offers of employment
Ater Wynne LLP
NW Law frim
The Oregon Supreme Court in Cocchiara v. Lithia Motors, Inc., (discussed in our earlier blog post here) opened up the possibility of a promissory estoppel or fraud claim against an employer who withdraws an offer of at-will employment. The Supreme Court found no conclusive presumption against recovery for lost at-will employment where the plaintiff was never hired or allowed to start work.
The anomaly created by this case – and the one noted in other cases involving this issue – is that the employer may not have been subject to suit if it had allowed the employee to start work in the at-will position, and then terminated his employment soon thereafter. Short of that, employers seeking to avoid claims in connection with offers of employment will want to be clear about any contingencies that must be met before employment begins, and must insure that any representations they make to induce the employee’s reliance on a job offer are accurate.