Category Archives: Employment Contract

False Promises of Employment – Fraud in the Inducement

This page is about fraudulent hiring. It details California’s employment laws on when employers tell prospective employees false promises in the hiring process – to induce them (trick them) into quitting their current job for a new one. These types of intentional misrepresentations (fraudulent inducement) are extremely common. But so are negligent misrepresentations – where an employer is reckless with the truth to the prospective employee’s detriment.

You are sitting around after work when you receive a phone call. It is the HR hiring manager for a business in San Francisco and they are looking for someone just like you. You love San Francisco and they are offering you 10% above your current salary, and you will be their new Vice-President of Operations. So you sell your LA home and move to SF. Upon arrival, you are handed a mop, a bucket and told you will be making minimum wage. Surely this cannot be legal? This is an extreme example, but it happens. People move for a job and it is not what they were sold on. This article presents the legal basics of fraudulent inducement.

Fraudulent Inducement Attorney

First and foremost, there are two ways that fraudulent inducement can occur: intentionally and negligently. The difference between the two is as simple as the job offeror knowing that he or she is lying to you versus recklessly ignoring the truth of the information he or she is giving to you. If in the scenario above the HR manager knew that they were going to pay you minimum wage and have you mopping floors despite providing a description resembling a VP of Operations position, it is intentional. If the HR Manager honestly believed that you would be the VP of Operations, but should have known that was not going to be the case, then it may be negligently induced.

What do the Courts Look at in False Promise Cases

To figure out if you were induced into taking the job, the court is going to look at several things:

  1. Did the defendant tell you that an important fact was true (i.e. “You’ll be paid 10% above what you are currently make.”)?
  2. Was this information false?
  3. Did the defendant know it was false information and say it anyways, or did they honestly believe it was true despite having no reason to know?
  4. Did the defendant intend for you to rely on that information in making your decision?
  5. Did you rely on that information in making your decision and was it a big factor?

People have very different ideas of what is an “important fact,” and rightfully so, so California Labor Code § 970 has cleared this up for us. Important facts recognized include the kind, character, or existence of work; the length of employment, compensation, the sanitary or housing conditions surrounding the work, and any labor disputes that are represented (or not for that matter!).

Did you Move? CA Labor Code § 970 is Powerful

Fraud in the Inducement, False Promises of Employment, Employment Lawyer

It becomes especially egregious when an employee moves from one location to another to take a job based on false promises. LC § 970-972 directly address this problem. If an employer induces someone to move based on false promises, that employer may be liable for double damages and guilty of committing a misdemeanor.

Though fraudulent inducement is not as common as discrimination, harassment, or a variety of other claims, it is still a huge hassle for someone who comes across it. People have uprooted their entire lives, changed their kids’ school, and usually have left a job, because they trusted their new employer. If you feel as though you have been given misrepresentations about a job you recently changed locations for, you should to contact a good employment lawyer as soon as possible.

 

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Recording Conversations At Work: Good or Bad Idea?


Occasionally, potential clients call our office telling us they have recorded a conversation with their supervisor. In other situations folks ask us if it is okay to record a conversation they are going to have with their boss. Because this comes up quite a bit in the employment world I figure it would be a good idea to address this issue. Employment lawyers across California will all tell you the same thing – don’t secretly record anyone at work.

First of all, its a bloody crime. California Penal Code § 632(a). Secondly, you probably won’t be allowed to use it as a part of your case anyway. California Penal Code § 632(d).

An Employee Cannot Secretly Record A Conversation At Work

In a majority of states, an employee can record a conversation in the workplace if that employee is taking part in the conversation. However, California does not follow the majority rule. In California and a handful of other states, an employee generally cannot record a conversation in the workplace unless everyone involved in that conversation consents or knows that the conversation will be recorded. This is because under the California Penal Code, recording a conversation is punishable by fine or prison time. While penalty is rarely enforced, you should still avoid recording your boss because you don’t want him/her to threaten you when they find out about the recording.

More importantly, even if it was legal to record your boss, in a civil case, you would not be able to use a secret recording as evidence in court. The law prohibits it except in extremely rare circumstances. Therefore, even if you get your boss to admit on tape that he broke the law, you would probably be prohibited from admitting it as evidence to show the jury.

Are There Exceptions to the Recording Law?

There are exceptions to this general rule. If the employee who is doing the recording is having a conversation in a public setting, such as a lobby with people in it, stairwell, or the breakroom where there is people then recordings these conversations in public settings is usually legal. This is because there is no expectation of privacy in a public setting. It can be expected that the conversation in the public setting can be overheard because there is a lot of people surrounding the conversation.

If you think your employer is doing something illegal or discriminating against you or another co-worker, rather than recording a secret conversation to use as evidence, contact an employment lawyer immediately to discuss your options in the workplace.

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California Labor Law Attorneys: Holding Employers to their Promises

California is an at-will employment state, which means that an employee can be fired for good cause, bad cause, or any cause (so long as the cause is not in violation of California or federal law). However, there is an exception to this. Under the implied in fact contract exception; an employer cannot fire an employee if the employee can show that there is an established and implied employment contract between the parties.

Courts consider the following factors to determine if there is an implied-in-fact contract: employee’s length of service, employer’s policies and practices, and conduct or communication by the employer reflecting assurances of continued employment. California labor law attorneys ensure that employers will be held accountable if they breach an implied in fact contract with their employee.

Employment Contract Employment Case – Challenging the At-Will Doctrine

In Joseph Sebastian v. Christ the King Retreat Center, the plaintiff witnessed a fellow employee engaged in bizarre behavior in a conference room by throwing garbage on the floor, acting irrationally, and shaking objects at witnessing employees. The employer defendant terminated the plaintiff after he complained that it was a safety issue for himself and other employees.

Among other things, Plaintiff argued that he was terminated in breach of an implied in fact contract. Plaintiff was an employee there for roughly seven years. Plaintiff alleged that he was told after he completed his probationary period that the job was his, he has tenure, and that he has a job as long he wants it. Further, upon being hired, plaintiff was given a company handbook contained a provision regarding a discipline policy.

The At-Will Doctrine Lost

Defendant argued that plaintiff was an at will employee and thus could be terminated without good cause. Defendant also argued that plaintiff was terminated because he was insubordinate on multiple occasions during his employment. The jury was not convinced by the defendant’s arguments, and awarded plaintiff $362,296 for breach of an implied in fact contract.

At the end of the day, this case is a win for California employees. If an employer promises an employee certain benefits or long-term employment, and then fires that employee without good cause, then the employee may have a viable case despite California’s strong at-will policy. If you have been wrongfully terminated, and your employer made promises to you during the course of your employment, then call a California employment lawyer immediately to see if there is any legal recourse.

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