One of the most stressful and traumatic things that can happen to an employee is being laid off or terminated shortly after relocating for a job. The worry and expense of moving, the possibility you left a steady job for one that has disappeared on you; these are the kinds of things that keep people up at night.
As scary as it is, this scenario isn’t as rare as you might think. Because of this, California has a law specifically targeting unscrupulous employers that promise jobs to relocating employees and then take them away. Employers are not allowed to ask an employee to relocate or hire an employee who it knows must relocate by means of any “knowingly false representations.” What that means is that an employer has to be up front when it asks you to move and can’t make any false promises. For instance, if an employer tells you when asking you to move that you will have a job for a year after you move, but knows it will lay you off within six months, it has broken the law. An employer likewise cannot make you move and then make you do a totally different kind of job than the one it promised you.
But what happens if the employer does anyway? The law gives you the right to seek all the costs you incurred in relocating, from moving expenses to lease-breaking fees at your apartment, or even costs related to having to sell your home in some cases. And because the employer’s bait-and-switch is such an awful thing to do, the law allows the employee to get back double his or her costs. There can also be a criminal fine and even a few months of jail time for the unscrupulous employer.
If you have found yourself without a promised job shortly after relocating, consider the reasons the employee gave for terminating you or laying you off and whether they sound real or might just be a cover for a false promise. If you suspect foul play by your employer, an attorney can help you understand your options and rights.