A frequent problem in New Jersey employment law occurs when a business offers someone a job without a contract, that person then quits their current employment, the business rescinds the offer, and the employee is left without a job. There is no contract, so the employee cannot sue for breach of contract. What can she do? In an important New Jersey employment law decision, the State Supreme Court ruled in the case of Goldfarb v. Solimine that the employee has a viable claim for promissory estoppel and may recover “reliance damages” from the prospective employer based on what she would have made had she not quit in reliance on the promise and stayed at her prior job. Promissory estoppel is a legal doctrine which provides that a party should be responsible for the consequences when a promisee relied on its promise and suffers damages when the promisor fails to perform.
David Solimine offered Jed Goldfarb a job managing his family’s investment portfolio. Goldfarb would receive an annual salary of $250,000-$275,000, plus ten to twenty percent of profits made because of his efforts or advice. Neither the offer nor a contract were ever put in writing. However, Goldfarb left his current job as a financial analyst (where he had made between $308,000 and $466,000 per year) in reliance on Solomine’s promise of employment. After Goldfarb quit, Solimine withdrew the offer and Goldfarb found himself unemployed.