Written by Galen T. Shimoda and Justin P. Rodriguez
As the economic world continues to change and people become more and more likely to move in order to obtain a job, concern arises about what may happen if the new job does not work. Uprooting one's family and bringing them to an entirely new surrounding can be a very stressful and worrisome on its own without the added stress of hoping the promises that made you move stay true in the future. Fortunately, the California legislature recognized the importance surrounding this issue and provided employees with a means of protection, Labor Code section 970.
Although section 970 was originally enacted to protect migrant farm workers who were being taken advantage of, courts have clarified that the protection contained in section 970 applies to all California employees. The protection offered is simple: an employer cannot make a knowingly false promise about the type of work, work environment, compensation, and/or length of work, etc. to induce you into moving inside or outside of California. This applies even if the housing accommodations you secured were not permanent. Examples of misrepresentations include the level of support the company would offer you in your new position, the quality of the product you may be selling, or changing your job duties.
An important thing to consider is that you should calculate each and every cost you incurred as part of the move because these would be included in damages calculations later in trial. Additionally, you would typically only be entitled to the lost wages you would have received in your prior job rather than the one you moved to secure. However, in order to protect against the hardship that an employee may suffer if made to move under false pretenses, the legislature also saw fit to provide liquidated (double) damages to employees who can prove a violation of section 970.
Labor Code section 970 says the following:
No person, or agent or officer thereof, directly or indirectly, shall influence, persuade, or engage any person to change from one place to another in this State or from any place outside to any place within the State, or from any place within the State to any place outside, for the purpose of working in any branch of labor, through or by means of knowingly false representations, whether spoken, written, or advertised in printed form, concerning either: (a) The kind, character, or existence of such work; (b) The length of time such work will last, or the compensation therefor; (c) The sanitary or housing conditions relating to or surrounding the work; (d) The existence or nonexistence of any strike, lockout, or other labor dispute affecting it and pending between the proposed employer and the persons then or last engaged in the performance of the labor for which the employee is sought.
If you believe you have claims against your current or former employer, contact our firm to have them evaluated.