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Legal counselling about job

Problem with promised job

post 9.Dec.2011, 07:57 PM
Post #1
Joined: 13.Jan.2010

Hello to all,
I want to report a situation that is happening to me, but i don't really know to whom i should direct the question to. If this is not within your field of responsability, maybe you can direct it to someone who could advise me and help me.

The situation is as follows: In August 2011, i went to KI, invited by a professor (whose name i will for now keep unidentified) for an interview regarding my incorporation at his department as a post-doc student. In that meeting, everything was settled for my incorporation to be in January, as the professor asked me to be like that as he was going to have two more students and that he required time for them as well. He asked me if i wouldn't mind to start in January, as at the time i was unemployed and it was my wish to start as soon as possible. I said that wouldn't be a problem. We also discussed a little bit about the project, funding, etc, and when i left, we agreed to stay in touch to discuss further things.
While back at my home country, we exchanged emails regarding papers, funding scholarships. Also, as for the matter of searching for a place, i was sent by the secretary of the department, a document stating clearly that i would starting my position as a 'gästförskare' in the department, running from January 2012 until December 2014. Due to that fact i have been trying to find a suitable accomodation, and also for flights.
Since i wanted to be sure that everything was ok, i sent the professor two emails,one in October, the other in November, to which i got no answer. Finally, last wednesday i got to reach on the phone with the secretary, and she told me that she had no indication of the contrary, that i would be able to book the flight, but that financial detial would have to be him to give them to me. So, she basically told me that they are expecting me in January. Later in the day, i got an email from the professor where he said that further candidates were being interviewed, that they didn't decide yet and that their next incorporation would be most likely in August 2012.

As you can imagine, this left me really really concerned as regarding the whole situation, and i want to know if this is confirmed, if i can make a complain, or what can i do, because i have put my life on hold as i was expecting that next month i would be working at the lab, i have a document that although it is not a contract, binds me to the department from January 2012.

Thank you in advance
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Bender B Rodriquez
post 9.Dec.2011, 08:17 PM
Post #2
Joined: 25.Mar.2006

Gästforskare means "visiting researcher", not postdoc. You should contact the secretary again to get clarification.

Also, you can try to contact these guys:
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post 9.Dec.2011, 10:13 PM
Post #3
Joined: 13.Jan.2010

Yes, althouth the letter states 'gästförskare', the position would be post-doc.

My doubt is that although there is not a contract signed, there is a verbal commitment between the two parties, and an official document that states that same agreement. I just don't know whether this will have a 'binding' status , but the fact was that i was never told i was dependent on a decision, and for that matter, i have made flight and housing arrangements precisely because there was no indication from the other end that this would not be happening.
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Bender B Rodriquez
post 9.Dec.2011, 11:33 PM
Post #4
Joined: 25.Mar.2006

Oral agreements are as binding as written ones in Swedish law; they are just harder to prove. However, in your case you have a document to support your case.

My advice is to keep it cool and ask the professor again, saying that you thought everything was already taken care of, especially since you already have an invitation letter. It might be as simple as a mistake from the professor's side. For example, he might have mistaken you for some other applicant in his latest reply.

After you have made sure that there is no misunderstanding you can proceed to use the links I supplied above.
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post 11.Dec.2011, 11:16 AM
Post #5
Joined: 13.Jan.2010

than k for your advice... in fact i wrote him an email stating that exactly. his answer came, and says that the document is just an invitation to help me find a house, and hence it is not a contract. However, there is explicit a date from where i would start...so i found a place taking that date into consideration. Vut the most unethical thing is that nothing was going to be said unless i was after him tith phone calls or emails.

And i wonder if even if this is an invitation like he says, if there are legal grounds for me to do something...
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post 11.Dec.2011, 05:29 PM
Post #6
Joined: 2.Jul.2009

You can talk to the people linked above and they might give some good advice, but in the end I think you have a lot more to lose than to gain in this situation.

Firstly unless this was a misunderstanding (which I doubt) then the PI is really treating you badly, and probably would continue to do so if you did get the job, so I would not take the job in the first place.

Secondly you probably have more to lose than to gain by taking the guy to court. You probably will not gain much, and will lose a lot in terms of future employability. The PI unfortunately has a larger voice than you and you will get branded a troublemaker which will count against you for future jobs.

Yes it sucks completely.

You can also try the career forums at http://scforum.aaas.org/ but I think they will tell you the same as the above. There is unfortunately a large scope for abuse in PI/Student relationships due to the complete power imbalance there and some PIs take advantage sad.gif.

Anyway good luck with it. What I would do is try to get a job in industry or a postdoc that could give you some transferable skills which would help you get a job in industry, but I fell off the postdoc bandwagon a while ago and might be a bit biased.
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