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I Relocated and Was Laid Off After Two Weeks, What Are My Rights?

Ask Savvy: I Relocated and Was Laid Off After Two Weeks, What Are My Rights?

Dear Savvy,

I have a major dilemma that I'm hoping you can help me with. I moved to Seattle for a job that seemed great on paper but turned out to be a total nightmare. They actually let me go after 2 weeks, without any reason given other than "you weren't the right one" — this is after I just moved several states away from home, and before I was given a chance to perform my job! Because of the lovely legal agreement known as a contract, I now have to pay $3,700 to break my lease.

Sad, this has been an absolute nightmare and I want to know — what are my rights? I have only had the keys to the apartment for a week! If I absolutely have no rights and must pay that ridiculous fee to break my lease, can I write the $3,700 (plus the first month's rent and deposit) off as a relocation/job-search expense? Thanks so much for your help, I am truly devastated by this turn of events.

See my answer when you


What a terrible situation you're in — I'm so sorry that you're going through such a difficult and overwhelming time. Relocating from your home is an emotional move and when the one thing you're looking forward to turns sour, you begin questioning your decision. While it doesn't seem like anything positive could come from this situation, try not to resent your new city. Seattle has a lot to offer both culturally and job-wise, so why not give it a chance?

If you're totally against the idea of trying to make it work there, here's what I would suggest in terms of your apartment fiasco. You signed a lease and your rights are whatever is stated in those papers. Have you tried discussing your situation with your landlord? It's worth approaching her, but do so without any expectations or sense of entitlement to get out of your lease because you've been served a raw deal. She may be sympathetic, but she may simply tell you what you already know about the terms of your lease.

So, what should you do if she says sorry, but a deal is a deal? Request that you be allowed to find someone to take over your lease. The apartment where I currently reside became available for that very reason: the tenants wanted to move back to their hometown but were only six months into their year-long lease. The owner agreed to let them find new tenants that would take over their lease, they placed an ad on Craigslist, and the only involvement the owner had was running a credit check and reviewing our rental application.

While you're searching for new tenants, consider taking a temporary job to bring in some money in case it takes longer than you anticipate. Hopefully, your luck will change very soon!


Join The Conversation
erinkc erinkc 4 years
Ugh, we're going through the same thing right now although fortunately we only moved about an hour from were we were before and we're happy staying here. They "eliminated my position" two days before there would've been a chance of my being eligible for unemployment (but other than my boss texting me every morning telling me not to come to work, he hasn't told me to my face that the position was eliminated... I have a few friends there and they've all told me the same thing though, that he already considers me done there. No idea what to do.) Hope things worked out ok for you:)
GracieCat1 GracieCat1 8 years
I would just go looking for a new job and stay at the place you are renting. No sense in jumping up to run back to where you came from right now. Good luck to you.
wrngco wrngco 9 years
it sucks and I've had it happen too. I was there 6 days no training they are like "ready to get on the phone with insurance brokers" I'm like uh, not yet, next day fired
jadenirvana jadenirvana 9 years
Poor poor thing! What industry do you work in? I live in Seattle and could keep my eyes out for you:)
Jacw20 Jacw20 9 years
I would check to see if your employer had an employee handbook that required termination for "just cause" or had provisions for employee disciple (i.e. three counselings then you'll get fired, or the right to a warning) Your strongest case would probably be in Promissory Estoppel. (From an ABA lecture)Promissory Estoppel has been used by employees and courts as an alternative theory [of recovery]. Employees must show an unambiguous promise by the employer, reasonable and foreseeable reliance, and detriment as a result of that reliance. Herbst v. System One Information Management, L.L.C., 31 F. Supp. 2d 1025 (N.D. Ohio 1998). The reliance may include relocation, sale/purchase of a home, relinquishing another job, etc. Some courts have held, however, that these actions, especially the relinquishment of the former job, are ordinary in connection with changing employment and are insufficient to establish an estoppel. These claims are strongest where an at will employment is terminated very shortly after its inception, and where the detriment is extreme, i.e. the long distance relocation to take a position that is immediately terminated. The employee who moves her family hundreds of miles to take a new “at will” position may reasonably believe that her employment will be for a “reasonable period”, but what should the measure of her damages be in connection with a claim of promissory estoppel? In Goff-Hamel v. Obstetricians & Gynecologists, P.C., 588 N.W. 2d 798 (Neb. 1999), the court found a promissory estoppel where plaintiff quit her job of eleven years in reliance on an offer of new employment, which offer was rescinded one day before she was to report to work because the wife of an owner of the company objected to her hiring. She was unemployed for many months thereafter. Summary judgment was granted in favor of the employee on a promissory estoppel claim. In remanding the case, the court stated, significantly, that the damages on an promissory estoppel claim ought not be based on lost wages but rather “as justice requires.”
hihowareya hihowareya 9 years
Oh gosh, I am so sorry for you! I guess I'll have to be extra careful now with my future relocation plans! :-x
Marci Marci 9 years
They went to the trouble and expense of relocating you and then only gave it two weeks before deciding it wasn't working? Not much of a person's worth gets shown in the first two weeks, so it sounds fishy to me. But that wasn't the question/issue here. Sorry. There are some good thoughts from posters here. I just wanted to offer my sympathies because that's a horrible situation you've ended up in.
MindayH MindayH 9 years
Not sure about Seattle, but most rental markets are doing well right now (because of all the forclosures - everyone needs to rent), so hopefully she will let you out.
katiedid0985 katiedid0985 9 years
I agree with Savvy, if you decide you can't make it work in Seattle and really want to move, see if your landlord will allow you to find someone to take over your lease. I left, my old apartment after 6 months of a 1 year lease because I was able to find someone to absorb it. I had to pay one month I didn't live there, but other than that it worked out great. It really s*cks that they didn't seem to give you a chance at the job, but do you really want to work for a company that's so quick to fire someone? I hope you can find a new job that actually will be willing to train employees and give them a chance.
shanimalcracker shanimalcracker 9 years
Most job offers and contracts are "at will" employment now so they can keep you employed or fire you "at will." This is a really crappy situation, but it sounds like you really didn't enjoy the job (as it was a nightmare) in any case. I just hope that the whole mess with housing and the lease will work out in your favor! I also hope that you find the job that really fits you and you are in love with. :)
graduatedsqueaks graduatedsqueaks 9 years
wow, what an unfortunate experience! I'm on the job hunt now...maybe that's something to ask if I'm relocated.
emalove emalove 9 years
I'm so sorry this happened to awful!!
seraphicstar seraphicstar 9 years
i had something similar happen to me. i recived a job offer... let them know that i was getting married and that i could start after that. I told my crappy old employer to shove off and I left for my honeymoon worry free. I came back, spent less than 5 hours at the new job... and they told me that I wasnt the right fit. i didnt even have a chance to do ANYTHING. I dont know how they got a feel for anything I bearly could squeeze a word in edgewise with the trainer!!
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
most jobs, like mine have a probationary period where they can let you go without giving the reason, its a risk you take when you move, thats why before you move you should get things in writing, or get assurances. I dont understand why they didnt bring you out there for a trial period to see if you were right.
colormesticky colormesticky 9 years
I'm so sorry, what a load of BS. :(
skigurl skigurl 9 years
by the way, seattle is pretty sweet...go to the Premium Outlets and shop your pain away.
skigurl skigurl 9 years
can't she sue the company or something? that doesn't sound right at all!
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
Ohh h*ll no, I hope that one of the Sugars or Savvy can help you. Savvy is pretty good at advice. I am so sorry for you. That is a major fault of theirs and not yours.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
that really is crappy - the one thing that i do know from my experience with leases is that sometimes there are 'out clauses' due to job relocation etc. maybe if you really don't want to stay there and you find a new job right away - you can get out w/ proof that you're moving for a job.
kcwebgirl kcwebgirl 9 years
that totally sucks. i hope it works out! and the job market is really good out there so i would suggest trying to look for a new job at least for a few months to see what happens. maybe you just needed to get there and something wonderful is waiting for you!
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