I am having some trouble getting a straight answer from my school. At the start of Fall I was offered a 1-year Full-time (FT) Temporary position by appointment letter approved by the school President. I previously have been an adjunct and a FT Temporary by appointment letter at my school. I accepted and noted a date-of-service error which was quickly corrected and a second President-approved letter was issued and I accepted. I was in the middle of interviewing at 2 other schools but like it here better so life is good! My payroll system updates to the higher pay and all my other online indications change to the new appointment.

Not so fast — when I mention the appointment to my Dean I quickly then get an email from an HR staffer telling me to "disregard" the appointment letter. My payroll status reverts back to a job from a year ago since my Summer adjunct contract had completed. I ask what happened and get the runaround. I have not received any formal cancellation or rescission of my appointment letter — when asked HR tells me they have no process to do so.

With Fall ready to start I ask if I am going to get an adjunct contract since I am slated to teach a Physics class in a few days — and I don't get one until the end of the first week — I told my Dean I was very uncomfortable teaching without contract but I did not want to cancel class and penalize the students.

I corresponded with the Director of HR with multiple questions and with my Union — the Union President met with the Director of HR and arranged a Zoom meeting with the Outlook meeting invitation (from Director HR!) stating

This meeting has been scheduled to discuss contract processes and answer requestors questions regarding issuance of contracts.

and asked for supporting documents which I provided. I also asked for an agenda and was told again

This meeting is for you and [name] to discuss your specific situation and the questions you submitted regarding contract processes. You submitted questions, and they are meeting with you to answer them as well as address any concerns you may have beyond the questions you submitted..

And when I got there I was told that no questions would be answered, only later in a letter. When I stated this was not the stated intent, I was further told both: we have answered your questions, AND [strangely] we won't be answering every single question. When I challenged that and said "I feel like I was fooled or tricked into the background for having this meeting" I was told that I offended them. I took very detailed notes and transcribed them that night and had them reviewed by another attendee for accuracy.

I then received a 20-page letter 10 days later from Director, HR that stated "on behalf of the College" we have answered all your questions and closing the conversation with HR:

As you consider this information, please address any further questions about the appointment letters or adjunct contracts you received with your Dean, [name of Dean].

It further stated that my Academic Division was where the appointment letters (twice!) originated. When I communicated with my Dean I was told that the Dean has asked HR to amend the letter since the appointment letters did not originate in the Division.

So I think I am stuck between the two. The Union is thinking about it — what do you think I should do? I went from a full-time gig to 1 class so my pay is down by about 2/3 — I was able to get another job at another school nearby for a quarter to tide me over. I feel bullied, discounted and ignored.

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    This is exactly what your union is for - resolving contractual disputes. You could also potentially consult a lawyer, but if the university has no money there is no way for this to be set right. Personally, if I were treated like this I would refuse to work there again. Oct 31, 2020 at 8:56
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    Sounds like you need a lawyer. You had a signed contract which the university is now breaching. Contracts cannot be unilaterally undone by telling the other party to “disregard”. But IANAL.
    – Dan Romik
    Oct 31, 2020 at 9:43
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    May I ask which country is this?
    – High GPA
    Apr 24, 2021 at 0:03
  • 1
    Washington state in US
    – AnEngineer
    Apr 25, 2021 at 1:28
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    Every single communication is being vetted by counsel. HR is out of it because it is now a labor-management dispute involving the collective bargaining agreement, which probably includes rules about this and a conflict resolution process. Your union is your advocate but you may want your own lawyer.
    – Elin
    May 30, 2021 at 0:51

1 Answer 1


You're receiving the runaround because someone at your university breached a signed contract. Since the payroll system updated, that means that the contract was processed, so it can't simply be taken back or invalidated because HR sends a "Disregard" notice.

It sounds to me like the Dean didn't want you to make additional money, so somehow convinced HR to send you the "Disregard" notice and draw out the process.

Or if not the Dean, someone in the hierarchy decided you were making too much and decided to cancel the deal, thinking that you do not have the time, money, and energy to pursue legal remedies.

The "Disregard" notice is meaningless as a matter of policy & law unless it's specifically authorized by other university documents, so what happened to you is probably a violation of law, although only the Union & an attorney (or the Union's legal counsel, if one exists) can determine that.

Universities treat people in your situation like this all the time because they--like so many employers--wager that they'll get away with it. They don't treat tenured faculty members this way (or, at least, not tenured faculty members who put up a fight).

So, the harsh truth is that you may have little recourse beyond what you've already pursued.

Good on you, however, for fighting that fight.

As someone else mentioned, you may not want to work there anymore unless the university makes this situation right.

Otherwise, you'll simply be treated as an exploitable, disposable employee whom they'll shortchange any time it suits them.

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