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What To Do if Your Job Offer Is Rescinded

May 3, 2024 At-Will Employment

You Have Recourse, Even in an At-Will State.

It’s every job applicant’s nightmare. You get an offer for your dream job, you give notice at your old job, maybe you even pack up and move cross-country—only to find the offer rescinded before you even start.

Many people ask themselves—can they do that? Is it legal? The unfortunate truth is that, in many cases, it is. But that doesn’t mean you are without recourse.

Reasons Why an Employer Can (Legally) Rescind Your Job Offer

In general, employers are allowed to rescind job offers for a wide variety of reasons in an at-will employment state, such as Pennsylvania. There are many reasons a job offer may be rescinded that are for the most part lawful. A few examples include:

You didn’t pass a background check or drug test. If your employer found something objectionable in your past—such as that you lied about some aspect of your history—they may be within their rights to rescind your job offer. The same is true if your employment depends on passing a drug test and you did not pass.

You took too long to respond. You may need a little time to weigh different options if you get a job offer, but if you take too long, the employer may rescind. Pay attention to any directions in your offer letter about when you have to respond by.

The company experiences a major financial change or upheaval. There may be more going on behind the scenes than you’re aware of. A sudden loss of a contract, a shift in the market, an internal reorganization, major disagreement between stakeholders, or other big changes can suddenly result in the employer rescinding your job offer—through no fault of your own.  

Something offensive or objectionable crops up. It’s possible your offer may be rescinded if your employer encounters something it considers a “red flag”—a reference says something negative about you, they find something objectionable in your social media posts or comments, or your behavior after the job offer strikes them as offensive. 

The above reasons may be lawful; however, that’s not always the case. Employers have to carefully document the reason they rescinded to demonstrate it wasn’t discriminatory. If the employer uses background checks or drug testing, they have to adhere to certain requirements before they can fire you or rescind an offer legally—depending on state and local law.

For instance, Pennsylvania has protections for workers with medical marijuana cards, and employers in Philadelphia are forbidden from conducting pre-employment tests for marijuana as a condition of hiring.

In addition, historically courts in Pennsylvania have sided with workers in cases where the worker went to great lengths to accept the job offer—such as selling their house and moving across the country.

Illegal Reasons for Rescinding

In most cases, the reasons above are generally lawful in an at-will state. However, there are some reasons for rescinding a job application that are usually unlawful. These include:

Discrimination. If the employer fires you for a discriminatory reason, this is very likely unlawful. Perhaps one of the more common discriminatory reasons involves pregnancy. There have been many cases where an offer was rescinded because the employer found out the employee was expecting.

Your criminal history. This one is a bit more complicated, and depends on your state. Approximately 37 states and over 150 cities and counties have enacted “Ban the Box” laws that restrict how and when an employer may ask about an applicant’s criminal history.

Philadelphia has one of the strongest Ban the Box protections in the country. It applies to almost all employers doing business in the city, and it protects existing employees as well as applicants—restricting how employers may ask about a criminal history and how they take that information into account when they learn about it.

So depending on your location, if your offer is rescinded because of your criminal history, this may be unlawful depending on how the employer considered that history and other factors.

You signed a contract. In general, if you have signed a contract and have not done anything to violate the terms of that contract, you may have stronger legal protections against having your job offer rescinded.

What To Do if Your Job Offer Was Rescinded 

If your job offer was rescinded, you should speak to a knowledgeable employment attorney. Your attorney can assess the situation and help you gain recourse in court. Call us at 267-273-1054 or email us at for a free, confidential consultation today.

The information provided here does not constitute legal advice. It is intended for general purposes only. If you have questions about a specific legal issue, you should speak to an attorney.