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Can I quit my nanny job without notice if there was no contract?

Armonk, NY |

I was hired last week as a nanny for a family in NY. Not only is the position not what we discussed, but I feel overworked, underpaid, and even verbally abused sometimes. I want to leave without giving notice, but I'm afraid of the legal ramifications. We agreed on a contract, and in an e-mail I said that it looked fine, and that I would sign it, but we never got around to that yet. In that contract it said I would give 4 weeks notice, but again, I never signed it. Can quitting on the spot come back to bite me?

I am afraid that if I give notice that they might tell me to leave on the spot. It is a live-in position and I have no where to go at this point as I am new to the area. I would instead leave on Saturday morning, when I can get someone to take me out of the area. Second, is there a breach of contract if I didn't sign? Lastly, I obviously wouldn't be using them as a reference!

Attorney Answers 2


Yes, in many ways. One is breach of contract. Two is bad references. Three is fraud. Give your notice now and see if they want you to stay on until the end of the 4 weeks. If they find someone sooner I guarantee you will be asked to leave earlier.

The response given is not intended to create, nor does it create an ongoing duty to respond to questions. The response does not form an attorney-client relationship, nor is it intended to be anything other than the educated opinion of the author. It should not be relied upon as legal advice. The response given is based upon the limited facts provided by the person asking the question. To the extent additional or different facts exist, the response might possibly change. Attorney is licensed to practice law only in the State of California. Responses are based solely on California law unless stated otherwise.

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As you've seen from the 2 previous answers, people's opinions can differ, with 1 person thinking there's a contract and another thinking there's not.

From your description, the parents would have a basis to CLAIM that you breached a contract by leaving without notice. They might not succeed in that claim, but you would have to fight a lawsuit to prove them wrong. There is almost nothing that someone in your situation can do to GUARANTEE that the parents won't take legal action against you. So don't look for absolutes.

What you want to do is consider the range of negative consequences, and prioritize them. It seems to me that being kicked out of the house before you have any place to go is about the worst potential consequence. Getting sued in a month, or six, or perhaps never is a less significant risk right now.

To eliminate the first risk and to try to minimize the second, I would suggest the following: Wait until you have your ride lined up, and talk to the parents shortly before. In your conversation, be honest, and (if you can honestly do it given whatever has transpired) offer to stay for the 4 weeks, or perhaps some lesser amount of time, to allow them to find a replacement. If they tell you to leave immediately, well, you're covered, and your offer to stay will probably constitute the 4 weeks notice the "contract" (if it exists) required you to give. If they ask you to stay, you have 4 weeks of pay while looking for a new job.

If the atmosphere is such that you could not possibly stay on for another 4 weeks, or even an extra day (and it may very well be the case if there's verbal abuse), then tell them Friday/Saturday, leave, and deal with whatever fallout comes later. No one should stay in an abusive situation out of concern that there might be litigation later.

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