I work at a non-tenure granting institution that is very far from home where I am not particularly happy. I received a two-year contract from them that I signed in late April. My faculty handbook states that I can only terminate my subsequent year's contract by May 1st. I am not sure how legally binding this document is considering that when I signed my original contract, I'm pretty sure I signed a document stating that either party (employer/employee) in the state where I work can terminate employment at will. However, I signed no such document this time around. I am hoping to get an offer from another institution where I would really, really like to be within the next week or so. If I do get the offer I'm hoping for, can/should I quit the other job? I would appreciate any advice you'd all be willing to share.
Date: 16 Jul 2013 19:57
Number of posts: 5
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I think it really depends. If you did sign a form that says you can terminate employment at will, then feel free. They may have to rush to make a new hire, but it is within your right to. However, I actually interviewed this last year at a place who had a person back out during the summer for a position after signing the contract. The faculty voted on whether or not to inform that person's new institution and graduate institution (so that her new colleagues and former advisors would be aware that she had signed a contract and then backed out). Though people do sometimes back out, it is not often looked at favorably as it signals commitment issues and can be a bit of black mark. Again, depends on the specific situation and how "tight" your contract is, but be aware that the institution you work out may share with others that you backed out. And know how to handle that situation if someone brings it up.
If you do get an offer, maybe you can delay the start date by a semester or even a year, giving your other place some time to find a replacement.
Thank you all for your excellent advice! I checked my original hiring materials, and although I didn't keep a copy of the actual form, a checklist from those materials stated that I needed to sign and return a document stating that I understood that my employment was "at will". I think this frees me from any legal issues relating to the faculty handbook. I definitely realize that I'll be burning some bridges if I get and take this other position, but this one is also not a permanent position and my potential employer is aware of my current situation. So hopefully, the repercussions of this decision will not follow me too far forward.