CALIFORNIA: Employee can sue for false inducement to relocate to California
A man who moved from India to California for a job can sue his employer for misrepresenting the terms of his employment in violation of California Labor Code section 970, a California court of appeals has ruled. The job offer was for an Internet sales manager position in Los Angeles, paying $10,000 a month. About a year after he started working, he was forced to resign. What happened? For the first few months, all was well. His wife quit her job in India and joined him with their two children. But then his salary was cut in half, so his family moved back to India after only six weeks in the U.S. The company owner (a relative by marriage) allegedly threatened him and refused to give him his final wages unless he signed a release. Although workers’ compensation normally would be the sales manager’s exclusive remedy for emotional distress or similar claims, the court said that argument doesn’t fly when there’s an important public policy at stake—in this case, California Labor Code section 970, which prohibits knowingly making a false representation to induce an individual to relocate for employment. The case will now go back to a jury (Singh v. Southland Stone, U.S.A., Inc., Cal App, July 2010).
Tips: When making a job offer, try to be as accurate as possible in describing the job. If employment is “at will,” say so. See our Model Form, “Job Offer Letter” (4370).