Can Employers Safely Retract a Job Offer?
The question of whether or not employers can safely retract an offer of employment is quite common. During the recruitment process, employers should be aware of their obligation to comply with employment equality legislation. If an offer of employment is offered and later retracted due to reasons relating to one of the nine equality grounds, the candidate can pursue a discrimination claim under equality legislation.
Although equality claims are the most common type of claim taken following a recruitment process, there is also the risk of a high court claim. A recent high court case, Genockey v Bank of Ireland  IEHC 498, has highlighted the importance of employers having clear employment preconditions set out during the course of the recruitment process.
In Genockey v Bank of Ireland, the Plaintiff brought a claim to the High Court, claiming damages for negligent misrepresentation due to the withdrawal of an offer of employment. Bank of Ireland successfully argued that the offer was withdrawn due to the Plaintiff’s failure to comply with one of the employment preconditions, the verification of her qualifications.
The bank argued that the pre-conditions of employment were made clear to all candidates during the course of the recruitment process. The Plaintiff applied for a loan administration position and in her application, she had mistakenly stated she received 3 honours and 4 passes in her Leaving Certificate, although in reality, she had received 4 passes and 3 fails in pass level subjects.
When the plaintiff attended the interview, she failed to bring a copy of her results. However, she completed an application form which stated “any offer of employment is subject to verification of educational qualifications, proof of identification […]. Any deliberate misrepresentation or omission could result in the withdrawal of any offer of employment (if successful), or in dismissal, should employment have commenced.”
Following the interview, the Plaintiff received a phone call advising her she had been successful at the interview. The Plaintiff informed the bank she would give her notice to her current employer. Following the call, the bank sent an offer letter that again stated the offer was subject to employment pre-conditions and specifically stated the verification of education qualifications. The Plaintiff subsequently submitted her leaving certificate results to the bank. On receipt of the results, the bank contacted the Plaintiff to notify her that offer was revoked due to the fact the Plaintiff failed Maths in her Leaving Certificate.
The claim was brought to the High Court for breach of contract and misrepresentation. The Plaintiff argued that the bank had offered her an unconditional offer of employment. On review of the case, the Court found that at all stages of the recruitment process the Plaintiff was made aware that the offer was subject to pre-conditions. The claim for damages submitted by the Plaintiff failed.
This case highlights the importance of having well thought out recruitment procedures in place. If offers of employment are subject to certain requirements, it’s vital this information is issued in writing to candidates.
If it is not expressly stated in an offer of employment, the company is more likely exposed to litigation. It is advisable to have structured recruitment procedures in place in order to mitigate against potential risk.
If you have any questions in relation to this article please contact the advice line on 01 886 0350