Can an Employer Revoke a Job Offer?
Imagine this scenario: you apply for your dream job, and get hired. Before you can start your job, the company informs you that they are revoking the job offer. Is the company allowed to do this?
Generally, employers may legally withdraw a job offer at anytime, so long as the reason for the revocation is not based on any illegal grounds. If you believe your job offer has been withdrawn illegally, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the employer. An Orange County employment lawyer may help you with this process, starting with a free consultation.
A conditional offer of employment is a job offer that is based on the candidate meeting certain requirements before they can start or continue a job. These conditions may include additional requirements such as taking a drug test, undergoing a physical, obtaining a special license, or undergoing a background/credit check. Typically, these conditions should be related to the job requirements.
Under California law, it is illegal to discriminate against job applicants and employees on the basis of race, physical disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age, sexual orientation, military status, or other protected status. If an employer imposes a condition that is discriminatory in nature — such as asking for proof that a job applicant is married — then it could lead to an employment discrimination lawsuit.
Consider this Situation:
Mary is hired as a grocery store clerk. Her employer tells her that before she can start her job, she must pass a background check, a drug test, and must also take a psychological examination. Mary does not want to take a psychological exam, as she has struggled with depression and anxiety in the past. She refuses, and her job offer is revoked. In this situation, the requirement of taking a psychological exam is probably discriminatory, as it is not related to the job of being a grocery store clerk and is not necessary for the business. Mary may be able to file a claim for disability discrimination.
Can a Job Offer Be Revoked?
Generally, an employer may withdraw a job offer for almost any reason, so long as it is does not have an illegal basis. In California, employment is considered to be “at-will,” which means that an employee may quit a job at anytime and an employer may terminate the employee for any non-discriminatory reason. In addition, a conditional offer of employment may be revoked or withdrawn if the applicant for the job does not meet the conditions of the offer. This includes withdrawing an offer if the applicant fails to meet the conditions within a certain time limit provided by the employer.
Sue is hired to work as a bus driver on the condition that she provide proof of a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and her driving record to the bus company within 2 weeks of getting the offer. Sue never gave the company a copy of her CDL or driving record, so the job offer was revoked legally.
Can an Employer Revoke a Job Offer If They Learn about a Criminal Conviction?
In 2018, California passed its “ban the box” law. Under this law, employers are prohibited from asking about a job applicant’s criminal history before making a conditional offer of employment. After offering an employee a conditional job offer, the employer may perform a background check, with written consent from the applicant. If the job applicant has a criminal history, this does not mean they are automatically excluded from the hiring process or the job offer must be revoked. Instead, employers must perform an individualized assessment of the applicant.
In making this assessment, an employer must consider a range of factors when deciding if they should revoke a job offer, including:
- The nature and gravity of the offense or conduct;
- Whether the conviction(s) has a direct and adverse relationship with the specific job duties;
- The nature of the job held or sought; and
- The time that has passed since the offense or conduct and completion of the sentence.
John applies for a job as a bank teller. The bank extends a conditional offer of employment, subject to a background check. During the background check, the bank learns that John had been convicted of embezzlement from a prior employer. His felony conviction happened just 3 years ago, and he spent 2 years in prison for the crime. In this situation, the conviction has a direct relationship to the job of being a bank teller, which involves handling large sums of money. Only a year has passed since John completed his sentence for this crime. In this situation, the bank may have a reasonable basis for revoking the job offer.
However, if John was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) — a misdemeanor offense — 9 and a half years ago, then the bank would probably not be justified in revoking the job offer. The DUI is not related to the job of being a bank teller, and it happened almost a decade previously.
In addition, if an employer does decide to withdraw a job offer based on a criminal conviction, then they must first provide the candidate or employee with written notice and a chance to respond. An employer who fails to perform an individualized assessment, does not give the person notice or a chance to respond, or does not consider their response, may be in violation of California employment laws, possibly allowing the employee to file a lawsuit for damages with the help of a skilled Orange County employment lawyer.