Schley v. Microsoft Corp., Civ. No. 08-3589, 2008 WL 5075266 (D.N.J., November 24, 2008) – In this case, the district court held that Microsoft’s revocation of a written job offer to the plaintiff, which was contingent on a background and reference check, did not give rise to a breach of contract claim. Key to the decision was language in Microsoft’s offer letter explicitly providing that the offer was not a contract of employment and any employment was “at will” and terminable at any time.
The plaintiff’s claim for promissory estoppel survived a motion to dismiss, however, because the plaintiff could show that he had been encouraged by the employer to sell his home and relocate. In fact, the employer’s Associate General Counsel had encouraged the plaintiff to give notice to his previous employer, had recommended a real estate agent, and had ultimately facilitated his purchase of a new home from an acquaintance of hers.
This case demonstrates the importance of careful drafting in offer letters and provides some guidance to employers regarding their level of involvement with the potential employee’s personal affairs.