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Can implied and oral employment contracts take precedent over written contracts?

Pittsburgh, PA |

I am a resident assistant at a public university in PA. I have been an RA for the past year, and have performed well. This year, during the rehiring process I was promised a position by my supervisor, who has the power to hire RA's. My supervisor told me in various meetings, emails, and texts that I was guaranteed a position for the following school year. I signed a routine University contract, indicating that I was not guaranteed a position next year, however my supervisor guaranteed me before and after signing this contract that I would absolutely have a position. Now, as the year ends he has just met with me and informed me that unfortunately there isn't any space for me. Even though I signed the University contract, do his guarantees of employment to me take precedent?

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Attorney answers 3


No, but consult an attorney in your area as laws may differ in different states.

My name is Stephen R. Cohen and have practiced since 1974. I practice in Los Angeles and Orange County, CA. These answers do not create an attorney client relationship. My answers may offend I believe in telling the truth, I use common sense as well as the law. Other state's laws may differ.. There are a lot of really good attorneys on this site, I will do limited appearances which are preparation of court documents it is , less expensive. However generally I believe an attorney is better than none, but many will offer a free consultation and a face to face meeting generally will be better, I like my clients to write a short one page history of the fact and questions they have prior to meeting with them, so nothing is forgotten.

Christopher Daniel Leroi

Christopher Daniel Leroi


Great response by Mr. Cohen as always.


This is a tricky question to answer without looking at everything. You should consult with an employment attorney to evaluate the contract, the emails and texts to see if there is a claim to be made for the position.

Please note that the above answer is not intended to be legal advice. It is my personal opinion based on the information you have provided without obtaining a complete view of the facts as I would to render comprehensive legal advice. I advise you to consult with an attorney experienced in this practice area. The fact that I answered your question does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and me.


The laws in PA can differ on this subject, so it is important to have an attorney read all of the documentation you have, especially the University contract. There are remedies available for oral/express statements made if you relied upon them to your detriment, but again, all documentation needs to be reviewed by an attorney to determine whether you qualify.

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