The long and short of it is, WHO KNOWS? It certainly isn’t fair when you are living in Maine, get a job offer in Florida, sell your house, and move your family to Florida, only to find out when you arrive for your first day on the job that there is no job.
Here’s the law:
Golden v. Complete Holdings, Inc., 818 F.Supp. 1495 (M.D. Fla. 1993) (Under Florida law, fact that former employee was at-will employee did not require dismissal of claims against employer for negligent misrepresentation, promissory estoppel, fraudulent misrepresentation, and outrageous conduct; at-will employment doctrine only applies to claims for breach of contract.);
- J.R.D. Mgmt. Corp. v. Dulin, 883 So.2d 314, 319 (Fla. 4th DCA 2004) (“We disagree with defendant’s argument that fraud in the inducement cannot lie when employment is at will and terminable at any time. There is no reason why even at-will employment cannot be fraudulently induced.”);
- Stow v. Nat’l Maintenance Co., 610 So.2d 1378, 1382 (Fla. 1st DCA 1992) (“One’s status as an employee terminable at will will not, in and of itself, relieve from liability an employer whose independent wrongful act caused the employee to lose a position of gainful employment.”).
- Leonardi v. City of Hollywood, 715 So.2d 1007 (Fla. 4th DCA 1998):
o In Leonardi, the plaintiff was verbally offered a position as assistant to the city manager. Id. at 1008. The verbal offer was subsequently confirmed by letter. Id. As a result, the plaintiff quit his then-current employment four days after receiving the written confirmation of the offer. Id. That same day, defendant met with plaintiff and rescinded the offer. Id. Plaintiff sued on a theory of promissory estoppel, arguing that the City should have reasonably expected that its offer of at-will employment would induce him to quit his then existing at-will employment. Id. Plaintiff sought lost wages. Id.
o The court granted summary judgment for the defendant. Id. at 1010 (“The Court finds that reliance on a promise consisting solely of at-will employment is unreasonable as a matter of law since such a promise creates no enforceable rights in favor of the employee other than the right to collect wages accrued for work performed.”). The court reasoned that even had the defendant allowed the plaintiff to begin working, it could have terminated his employment immediately thereafter. Likewise, had the plaintiff not quit his prior job, that employer could have terminated him at any moment as well. Because plaintiff could have been fired by either employer at any time, and had been paid for all work performed for either employer, he essentially had no damages.
- This position was approved of in Escarra v. Regions Bank, 353 Fed. Appx. 401 (11th Cir. 2009).
- See also Jackson v. Home Team Pest Def., Inc., No. 6:13-CV-916-ORL-22, 2013 WL 6051391, at *7 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 15, 2013), appeal dismissed (Apr. 2, 2014) (citing Leonardi for the proposition that under Florida’s at-will employment doctrine, an employer can discharge an employee at any time, as long as he is not terminated for a reason prohibited by law.)
LONG STORY SHORT? If you are going to move a long way for a job, get it in writing that there is a job, get them to agree on a term of years you will have the job and at what salary. If you do that you will have a contract in Florida at least that you can then enforce your rights with. If you don’t do that, then BEWARE!
Contact David Sacks – employment lawyer Jacksonville Florida to evaluate your case!