I applied for a managerial position, to which the job posting had been displayed online officially by the hotel company. I interviewed with the GM of the hotel and was offered a job right away, we discussed salary and she wanted me to send all the related documents as soon as possible so I could join the team.

I provided all the required documents to the hotel over email in a timely manner and had only positive feedback from the hotel. This week I was supposed to sign my official written contract which was to be prepared as all my documents had been sent – health insurance, tax documents, certificates, references, residence papers, police reports, health checks etc.

The GM referred me to another person in charge since she was absent. I contacted this person and this person advice me to come in for a meeting and finalized the contract. Once I came in to the meeting I got re-interviewed and my German language skills were tested by another person brought especially only to test my skills of the German language. (This was not a requirement for the position and my language skills were not posed as an issue when offered the job initially by the GM).

This all came as a big surprise for me since I thought I was coming to sign the contract and starting my position the following week. The person not only questioned my language skills but told me that the position was really a supervisor position, not a manager position. She told me she would need to re-consult the GM to clarify and get back to me.

Tomorrow is my official start day at work and I have been requested to come in for a 3 pm meeting to clarify and discuss my situation - it seems like the GM is still absent and has left all the decision making to the other person. For me there is nothing to clarify since I was hired for a manager position and I am supposed to start tomorrow. I have the feeling that they either want to try to take back their job offer or try to push me down to a lower position with less salary/benefits based on my language skills.

What can I do to defend myself, what does that German labour law say about Verbal contract with email correspondence support? Is this strong enough to claim my right to employment with the hotel even though I do not have a written contract to support. Also, is there any discrimination laws applying to my case since there is no other basis that they can claim to change my level from managerial to supervisor other than the stated problem of my language skills? I have all the required experience and I have provided them with ALL the documents and other conditions they required.

Most of the correspondence I have over email and can prove – only some over phone.

In addition to this I have lost almost 1 month time worth to which I could have found other employment. I have also missed opportunities for other hotels since I accepted this offer.

Please let me know what I can do to defend myself during tomorrows meeting.

  • 2
    I don't think there is anything specific to expatriation in this question.
    – Gala
    Mar 23, 2015 at 12:55
  • 3
    Beyond that, I think you are in a precarious situation. What exactly are you hoping to achieve? You can't force this employer to hire you long-term by legal means if they are really bent on not doing it. I don't know German law very well but even if you could argue that you have some unwritten contract or something, it could usually be stopped rather easily at the beginning and you would at most get something like a couple of weeks pay. Is it worth spending time and money on an uncertain court case in a foreign country?
    – Gala
    Mar 23, 2015 at 12:59
  • 1
    One thing you could do though is try to approach a trade union (within or outside this company) for advice.
    – Gala
    Mar 23, 2015 at 13:01
  • I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it should be migrated to Workplace.SE. Mar 29, 2015 at 12:03

1 Answer 1


So, in short, you don't have a contract. Only in very rare situation verbal agreement can be binding, and it is usually not the case with work contracts. There is no way your verbal agreement with the GM can be considered binding.

I guess in your situation your best bet would be to just show up and ask for the actual contract and position, either with HR, or wait for the GM. German companies, especially bigger ones, are very bureaucratic, and it might be possible that you just got caught up in some of their internal processes.

As a side note, treat it as a lesson learned. You are free to negotiate with multiple companies at the same time, and even to back off from the verbal agreement yourself if the actual formal offer or contract is late or you get a better offer. Nothing is final unless both sides signed the contract. Besides that, do you really want to work in such a company?

In addition to that, as an employee, you have two week period even after signing an employment contract where you can change your mind. It's called Widerrufsrecht. Not sure if the company has that right too, or it's only for the individuals.

  • 3
    A verbal contract is usually just as binding as a non-verbal contract. There is just the tiny little problem of proving the terms of that contract, or that both sides agreed, or even that the contract existed.
    – gnasher729
    Apr 23, 2017 at 9:27
  • @gnasher729 This is not true in all jurisdictions. A Statute of Frauds often appears in law, and it may prevent the enforcement of oral contracts if, for example, those oral contracts might last for more than one year. Dec 14, 2018 at 17:42

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