If I relocated to California for a job that was misrepresented during the interview process, do I have legal recourse to collect reimbursement for the relocation?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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If I relocated to California for a job that was misrepresented during the interview process, do I have legal recourse to collect reimbursement for the relocation?

I recently relocated from Boston to Los Angeles for a job that was dramatically
misrepresented by the recruiting office I worked with and the team members that I
spoke with. I have spent considerable funds to relocate, and I am wondering if I
have any legal recourse to request reimbursement for those costs due to the
misrepresentation. The company is providing some assistance for relocation, but I
have not received those funds yet. There is a clause in the contract that those
funds may be required to be repaid if employment lasts less than 12 months – do I
have grounds to keep those funds?

Asked on October 30, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Employment in this country is "employment at will" unless and only to the extent it is guaranteed and defined by a written school district. That means that as a general matter, there is no cause of action for a job being misrepresented, since without a guaranty of a job, you have no right any particular job, set of duties, etc.: the employer may change, redefine, etc. the job at will, or even terminate you at any time. Therefore, without a written contract stating what you job was, your job is anything the employer wants it to be, and there is no cause of action for "misrepresenting" it. (That is why you should never relocate without a contract guarantying you the job and what it will be.)
You do mention a contract. If that contract defines what your job should be, they employer is bound to that contact; if they don't honor it, you could either 1) sue them to enforce it--i.e.. to get that job, or get compensation for not getting; and/or 2) treat the contract as terminated by their breach, allowing you out of its obligations (e.g. repaying relocation).
But without a contract setting your job, as stated, there is no cause of action for allegedly misrepresenting it, which also means that you'd have to repay the relocation fees if you leave before 12 months are done.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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