Job Misrepresented

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Job Misrepresented

Can you sue a company (a government contractor) for misrepresenting a job? My employer lied to me about what my job as a writer for them would entail. It’s actually secretarial. I found out later from the other staff “writers” that they wanted to tell me the truth during the interview process, but the supervisor warned them against this. [I also found out this dept has a very high turnovers – several quit or are fired.] I just found out today, my 60 day probation was extended by 30 days. If I’m fired [I really have no secretarial skills], can I sue? Thanks!

Asked on June 22, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Unfortuanately, probably not. After all, the company could have hired you as a writer than made your job secretarial the moment you walked in the door--companies may change job functions at their discretion, unless there is an employement or union agreement. If you have an agreement, it's terms will govern; otherwise, you employer may make the job secretarial.

One exception: IF you turned down some other job offer, or moved to take this job, or in some other way put yourself out significantly for it, relying on the claims that  it was a writing job, AND your employer knew you were relying on what they were saying and putting yourself out significantl, then you might be able to sue in what's called "promissory estoppel." (It's a way to "find" a contact where none otherwise exists, based on one party's reliance on what the other one said.) However, it's usually a very high hurdel to to do this.


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