Is it fraud if my employer is threatening to terminate my position because they can’t schedule me in the area I was told I would be working in?

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Is it fraud if my employer is threatening to terminate my position because they can’t schedule me in the area I was told I would be working in?

The company I work for advertised my position in a certain geographic area and when I was interviewed I was told that would be the location that I would be working in. I accepted this job on these terms but now the company is threatening to terminate my job because they cannot schedule me in this area. However I know there are other employees sent here. Is this fraudulent and is there anything I can do about this?

Asked on May 8, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, employment (including employment in MO) is "employment at will" unless there is an employment contract. An employee at will works at the "will" of the employer; the employer may terminate him or her at any time, for any reason. Therefore, if you do not have an employment contract, your employer may generally terminate you for any reason, and does not need to even share the actual or correct reason with you. It is also legal to terminate you for some purported or claimed reason while continuing to employ others who would seem to also be affected by that claimed reason.

That said, you may have a claim if--

1) You can show that you are being treated differently because of a specifically protected characteristic; for example, that you are being discriminated against because of your race, sex, religion, age over 40, or disability.

2) Even without an actual contract, if the reason you took this job was the promise you could be scheduled in this area, and to take the job, you had to give up an existing job or relocate, and the employer knew or reasonably should have known that you would give up a job or relocate to take this one--if all of those criteria are met, that may be enough to make the promise that you'd be employed and would be scheduled binding. (This is called "promissory estoppel.")

If you think that either 1) or 2) may be the case, you should consult with an employment law attorney to evaluate the situation and your rights in greater detail.


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