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Can You Sue Your Employer for False Promises

by John Gomez | Last Updated: September 15, 2022

Can You Sue Your Employer for False Promises Hero

If your California employer made false promises to convince you to take your job or prevent you from leaving to pursue other opportunities, you might be able to bring a fraudulent inducement lawsuit against them for compensation for the harm you’ve suffered.

The following answers the most frequently asked questions our experienced employment law attorneys get about fraudulent inducement claims in the employment context. If you have additional questions about false promises from your employer, contact Gomez Trial Attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.

Can You Sue Your Employer for False Promises?

If you were hired under false pretenses or convinced to stay at your job because of false promises, you may be able to file a civil lawsuit against them for compensation. Lawsuits of this kind are based on fraud or misrepresentation. To win an employer fraudulent misrepresentation case, you must prove the following:

  • Your employer represented to you that an important fact was true.
  • The representation was false.
  • Your employer knew that the representation was false when they made it or made the representation recklessly and without regard for its truth.
  • The defendant intended that the plaintiff rely on the representation.
  • You reasonably relied on the representation (e.g., accepted a job or stayed at a job you were going to leave).
  • You were harmed; and,
  • Your reliance on your employer’s representation substantially caused the harm.

CACI 2710; CACI 1900.

What If I Moved Based on My Employer’s False Promises?

In California, cases, where employer fraudulent misrepresentation convinced the employee to relocate are the strongest claims for fraudulent inducement of employment. California Labor Code § 970 expressly prohibits employers from persuading someone to relocate for work by knowingly making false representations about the work the employee will perform, how long the work will last, compensation, the sanitary or housing conditions relating to or surrounding the work, or certain prior labor disputes.

What Types of False Promises from My Employer Are Actionable?

Some common example scenarios involving false promises by an employer that may be actionable include:

  • You have two job offers. One employer promises to pay you $75,000, while the other promises $65,000. You take the higher offer, but after you accept, your employer only pays you $50,000.
  • When you go to put in notice because you’ve found a better job, your employer tells you that you shouldn’t leave because they were going to promote you with a big salary bump in the next few months. Nine months go by with no promotion or pay increase.
  • You live in San Diego, California, and a prospective employer offers you a job in their San Francisco office, promising that it will be a management-level role with quarterly bonuses that will more than make up for the cost-of-living difference. You relocate because of these promises and instead perform unstimulating non-managerial work and only get a small bonus after six months.

The above are just common examples; they are not a limitation on how a fraudulent inducement claim might arise. Every case is unique, and it is best to consult with an experienced employment law attorney to determine whether you can take legal action against your employer.

Do You Need an Employment Contract to Sue for False Promises?

No, you do not need an employment contract to sue your employer for fraudulent inducement of employment. If your employer memorialized their false statements in a letter or employment contract, that would help you prove your case, but these express statements are not common. Statements of false inducement are usually verbal.

Can I Sue for Fraudulent Inducement if I’m an At-Will Employee?

Yes, you can sue for fraudulent inducement if you are an at-will employee. The at-will status allows your employer to let you go at any time without notice (and allows you to leave at any time without notice), but it does not give them carte blanche to make false statements to you that you rely on to your detriment.

In the case White v. Smule, Inc., 2022 WL 503811 (Cal. Ct. App. 1st Dist. 2022), one of California’s appellate courts explicitly held that the employer could not avoid liability for fraudulently inducing an employee with statements about its planned expansion and need for an experienced project manager merely because the employment relationship was at will.

If you accepted a job based on the false promises of your employer, contact the employment lawyers at Gomez Trial attorneys at (619) 237-3490 or here to schedule your free case evaluation.

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