is a verbal employment agreement for moving expenses enforceable?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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is a verbal employment agreement for moving expenses enforceable?

During my interview and offer company in California, my employer verbally
agreed to reimburse my moving expenses at the end of the year 2017. When I
presented all the receipts for reimbursement, he told me that he didn’t agree to
that and now won’t pay. I had the HR rep in the initial meeting prior to hire
and she has provided a written statement confirming the verbal agreement that he

I took his verbal commitment that I would be reimbursed and now the company will
not. Do I have any recourse to collect for my expenses.

Asked on February 22, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you may have recourse for this. First, while there are some exceptions, oral (that is the better term than "verbal") agreements are generally enforceable, so you could sue the employer for "breach of contract": violating what it agreed to do. Second, you could also sue under the theory of "promissory estoppel" as well (you can sue under alternative legal theories in one lawsuit): that because they made a promise intending for you to rely on it, knowing you would have to do something to your detriment (like moving and incurring the costs thereof), with the goal to get you to do something (I.e. move or relocate for work), and it was reasonable for you to rely on that promise--and you did in fact rely on it and do the thing they wanted you to do--they are therefore equitably (as a matter of fundamental fairness) required to now honor their promise. You could sue on both bases and ahould have, based on what you write, a reasonable chance of success.

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 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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