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Summer job obligation

WaldoWaldo Registered User regular
edited May 2011 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi H/A,

This past week a friend of mine who works at a nearby store took me in because she is going away for the summer and though that I could essentially replace her for that time (late may to end of august). I met her boss, we talked for about 2-3 minutes, and he basically offered me the job (not in a very formal way I guess, speech-wise, but he also doesn't seem to talk much). We shook hands on it, I thanked him, and before I left he asked me to fill out a W-4 and W-9, so I did, and then left. We left it open as to when exactly I would start, but I told him it wouldn't be before about the second or third week of march.

2 days later I saw a posting for a job that is much less of a commute (practically where I live) and has more flexible hours. After a brief interview and tour they offered me the job, which I immediately took (and then arranged my hours for the summer). Immediately after this I sent an apologetic and cordial email to the first job's boss saying that I was sorry but that I would not be working there this summer. He sent me this email back:
Dear Waldo,
You have a legal agreement with [store name] to work here. The only way I can release you is for you to cooperate with [my friend who got me hired] to get a qualified person to fill up the position. Time is of essence

When I see this I immediately think that he is full of it and is being ridiculous. I'm not opposed to telling people who need work about the job, but what he says sounds like a bunch of crap. The only things I signed were the w-4 and w-9, which are tax forms, not contracts of any sort. So I have two questions:

1) Is there any possibility that me accepting the job when I talked to him (for max 5 minutes) was some sort of oral, binding contract?

2) How should I respond? (Though this really depends on #1's answer.)

All of this is in Massachusetts by the way. Thanks in advance!

Senjutsu wrote: »
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now I just have drinking solutions
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Waldo on

Posts

  • SeolSeol Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    http://www.hkwg.com/Employment-Massachusetts-At-Will-Rule.html
    The employment-at-will doctrine relies on the proposition that employers and employees alike are and should be free to make choices as they see fit. The doctrine holds that either party can enter or end a working relationship at any time, for any reason, and with or without advance notice. It generally covers all employment relationships in Massachusetts, though parties are always free to alter it by express agreements (either written or oral).
    If there was no express agreement for a notice period, you are entitled to leave the job with zero notice.

    Seol on
  • MichaelLCMichaelLC In what furnace was thy brain? ChicagoRegistered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Yeah, that e-mail is complete BS.

    Was it crappy of you to do that? Yeah, but I certainly can't say anything. :oops:

    I guess I would have talked to him in person or at least on the phone, since you had already met him. If you want to salvage anything, you could call him and say you got a much more career-job and unfortunately there was no contract signed.

    MichaelLC on
    Jokerman wrote: »
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  • WaldoWaldo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    It was kinda crappy of me, andI felt bad for a bit about turning around on the offer so soon, but it's a job that pays minimum wage and involves completely unskilled clerical work, so it's not the hardest position to fill. I still might call him I guess but with the way he framed that email (also subject line was "Legal contract"), I'm afraid he'll prompt some some argument about employment law or anything, so I'll still have to decide whether or not to just ignore it at this point.

    I only emailed him the first time because apparently he was out of the office that day but I was told he would be reachable by email (by my friend who was in the office at the time).

    Anyone with any info implying that he has any legal ground, please don't hesitate to comment.

    Waldo on
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    when I was younger I had a drinking problem

    now I just have drinking solutions
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/weeman3
  • CryogenCryogen Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    You need to look up the labor laws in your area and find what the minimum period of notice is where you live. Then give that amount of notice, in writing. Quote the relevant law in the letter ie "As per section #x of the Massachusetts labor law I hereby give x notice of my resignation..."

    I don't believe you could possibly be under ANY obligation to find a replacement for him, but I don't know your local laws so the chance exists. It seems you only have a verbal contract, so I'm sure you'd remember if anything like this had been explained to you.

    Do you have any kind of employment hotline in your city/state? This would be a great place to start obtaining the information you need.

    Cryogen on
  • WaldoWaldo Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Everything I found corroborated what Seol said, citing mass. law being "at-will" employment that may be terminated at any time, without notice (unless some period of notice is agreed upon in an employment contract).

    Also, I honestly can't imagine that a judge/court would ever force someone to do a job that they had never signed a contract for. Really at this point I'm pretty much just deciding whether to send him an email telling him that I don't have to do anything for him and to leave me alone, or just ignoring him (until/unless he contacts me again in any manner).

    Waldo on
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    when I was younger I had a drinking problem

    now I just have drinking solutions
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/weeman3
  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited April 2011
    Did you sign anything agreeing to work a set period of time? Did you verbally agree to working a set period of time with any sort of notice period?

    I doubt either of those are true. You're an at-will employee and you can be fired and/or quit at any time. And if the owner did try to pursue it, any competent labor lawyer would laugh him out of their office.

    Kakodaimonos on
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    The worst thing that could happen to you would be damaging your friendship with your friend, who may not have a job to come back to after the summer now.

    And off the cuff, without any signed contract, especially considering that he could have dumped you at any time before or after hire, you have zero responsibility for the job.

    DoctorArch on
    Switch Friend Code: SW-6732-9515-9697
  • DarkewolfeDarkewolfe Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    The worst thing that could happen to you would be damaging your friendship with your friend, who may not have a job to come back to after the summer now.

    Honestly, this is the important part. If your friend bent over to recommend you for this job and you screw over the employer, it's going to hurt them professionally.

    Darkewolfe on
    What is this I don't even.
  • WaldoWaldo Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Good thinking about my friend, but thankfully that wasn't an issue, as she had already told me she was not going to actually return at the end of the summer and just hadn't told the boss yet.

    @Kako: I don't remember the conversation verbatim but it was at least verbally implied I would work there from may-ish to august (nothing signed and no discussion whatsoever of any notice period). I figure even if he figured that was binding then this is just me saying "I quit" before having worked any hours.

    Waldo on
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    when I was younger I had a drinking problem

    now I just have drinking solutions
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/weeman3
  • 143999143999 Tellin' ya not askin' ya, not pleadin' with yaRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    I wouldn't want to work for someone who throws such a blatantly legally erroneous hissy-fit over a minimum wage temporary assignment anyway, but if you want to clean your conscience a bit about it, try telling him that you'd be happy to work for him - if he can match all of the terms that company B offered (more flexible hours, what I'm assuming is a position with no expiration date, anything in B's compensation package not offered or offered to a lesser extent, etc) and provide financial compensation to make up for the things that his company cannot match (distance from home, etc).

    At that point, it's not about you looking for a better offer, it's about him not being able to compete.

    143999 on
    8aVThp6.png
  • KakodaimonosKakodaimonos Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Or just let it go and ignore him. It is a summer job after all. Go and start the other job and don't worry about the owner.

    Kakodaimonos on
  • SeolSeol Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Yeah, after a response like that, I definitely wouldn't want to work for the guy.

    Seol on
  • SentrySentry Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    ignore it. Don't even respond. I would give the friend a heads-up though because she may have just lost a reference.

    Sentry on
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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    'Fuck yeah, me too. What little kid ever pretended to be part of the lynch-mob?'
  • PowerpuppiesPowerpuppies Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Sentry wrote: »
    ignore it. Don't even respond. I would give the friend a heads-up though because she may have just lost a reference.

    This is how I would handle it.

    Powerpuppies on
    sig.gif
  • DeebaserDeebaser on my way to work in a suit and a tie Ahhhh...come on fucking guyRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Waldo wrote: »
    Good thinking about my friend, but thankfully that wasn't an issue, as she had already told me she was not going to actually return at the end of the summer and just hadn't told the boss yet.

    If that's the case, fuck it. The dude sounds like an asshole.

    Deebaser on
  • GrizzledGrizzled Registered User
    edited May 2011
    Massachusetts is an at-will state. I concur with the advice to just ignore him, but if you were going to respond, or if you somehow wind up having to talk to him, you could just say something like "Massachusetts is an at-will state, I quit effective right now".

    Grizzled on
    Robman wrote: »
    Spin isn't in academia? You're in for a real disappointment when you go to your first conference and see two old men with mighty beards politely implying that the other person is more capable of fucking a dog then writing a scientific paper.
  • 143999143999 Tellin' ya not askin' ya, not pleadin' with yaRegistered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Ignoring him's a fine idea (with letting the friend know as an FYI for good measure); I was throwing out my suggestion mostly because A) even if the guy's a five-star goosewit, it might help the OP if they're dead set on finding a high-ground solution (which is really unnecessary here, honestly, but still), and B) it can actually be a worthwhile tactic to have onhand in situations involving more sensible people.

    I've had a few occasions come up with current (at the time) employers and sets of more than one potential employer where B will offer something better, but I have nonetheless felt that A should be allowed the opportunity to match B's terms. It's gone both ways in the past, but I've found in my experience that sensible people will understand your situation and in fact agree with your decision even if they're on the "losing" end of it if you look like you're trying to honor what they would see as an obligation on your part.

    (But as for this guy, yeah, unless the OP absolutely must do the "right" thing, to hell with him.)

    143999 on
    8aVThp6.png
  • WaldoWaldo Registered User regular
    edited May 2011
    Thanks for all the replies everybody, I think I am gonna just ignore him. It was helpful to learn about employment law a bit though!

    143999, in the future I think what you suggested is a decent option with more reasonable people.

    Waldo on
    Senjutsu wrote: »
    when I was younger I had a drinking problem

    now I just have drinking solutions
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/weeman3
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