What are my rights if I’m being laid off just 2 months after my company relocated me from the UK to the US?

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What are my rights if I’m being laid off just 2 months after my company relocated me from the UK to the US?

Last year I was working for a company in the UK. I was offered the possibility to relocate to the west coast, which I accepted. My wife left her job there and moved with me. We arrived about one month ago and, surprisingly, the company has just announced massive layoffs. I still don’t know all details but it seems likely I will loose my job. Do I have a case here?

Asked on June 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you have an employment contract which guarantees you employment for some fixed or minimum period, that would be the best scenario for you--such contracts are enforceble as per their plain terms. However, even in the absence of an employment contract, you may have grounds to seek compensation under the docrtine of "promissory estoppel": when someone (employer) makes representations (promises) to another (employee), with the intention that the other person relies on them; to rely on them, that other person must do something significant to his/her detriment (e.g. relocate, with all it's impacts); the person making the promises knows or should know that the person would have to do that thing (relocate) but makes its promise anyway; it is reasonable (or justifiable) to rely on the promise; and the person does in fact rely on it, to his/her detriment--when all those conditions are met, the courts may hold that the promise is enforceable, even in the absence of a contract. If you are laid off, it would be worthwhile for you to consult with an attorney about the situation in detail, to see if you do in fact have recourse.


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