Originally Published on September 3, 2018; Revised on August 10, 2021
You quit your job in Washington D.C. and moved all the way to California so that you could start working at your current job. Unfortunately, once you started working, you realized that the job is not what your employer promised it would be. Do you have a legal claim against your current employer?
You might have a legal claim against your employer under California Labor Code Section 970 (“Section 970”). Generally speaking, Section 970 makes it unlawful for anyone to influence or persuade someone to relocate for a job by making knowingly false representations regarding the nature or duration of the work.
Below is additional information about Section 970 and your rights under it:
No. 1: Section 970 makes it unlawful for an individual to make a knowingly false representation regarding: (a) the kind, character, or existence of a job; (b) the duration of the employment; or (c) the compensation. For instance, an individual may not make a knowingly false representation about the amount of your weekly salary or make a knowingly false representation that you will be heading a new department at the company. See Negrel v. Drive N Style Franchisor SPV LLC, 2018 WL 6136151, at *3 (C.D. Cal. 2018) (Section 970 “prevents the inducement of another ‘to move to, from, or within California by misrepresentation of the nature, length, or physical conditions of employment.'” (citing Funk v. Sperry Corp., 842 F.2d 1129, 1133 (9th Cir. 1988); citation omitted)).
No. 2: What is a false representation regarding the “kind” of job or “character” of a job? According to the courts, examples of these types of representations include: a representation that the employee could work remotely after the first six months; or a representation that the employee could control the sales team and hire a sales engineer.
No. 3: What does it mean for a representation to be “knowingly false?” It means that at the time that the individual made certain representations, he/she knew that those representations were false. See Finch v. Brenda Raceway Corp., 22 Cal.App.4th 547, 553 (1994) (finding evidence of a Section 970 violation where the hiring party repeatedly assured plaintiff during hiring that the position was permanent, but the hiring party told other staff members that he was hiring the plaintiff only temporarily or until his first choice candidate was able to move to California).
For instance, during your job interview, your soon-to-be boss promised you that he would pay you $3,000 per week – but at the time that he told you this, he secretly knew that he would only actually pay you $2,000 per week once you started working at your new job. In contrast, his representation is not “knowingly false” if at the time that he promised to pay you $3,000 per week, he genuinely intended to pay you that amount, but he was unable to do so later on because of subsequent financial issues at the company.
No. 4: It is unlawful for an individual to make “knowingly false” representations, whether spoken, written, or advertised in printed form.
No. 5: Section 970 covers all types of job relocations: e.g., relocating for a job from one location to another location within California; relocating for a job from another state or country to California; or relocating for a job from California to another state or country.
No. 6: Section 970 requires an actual physical relocation of residence. It is not enough to have merely taken steps to relocate (i.e., visiting the area to look at potential apartments to rent). At the same time, however, Section 970 does not require a permanent relocation of residence. For instance, a relocation of only two weeks is sufficient for a Section 970 claim.
No. 7: An employee may bring a civil action against anyone who violates Section 970 for double damages resulting from the knowingly false representations.
No. 8: Anyone who violates Section 970 is guilty of a misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $1,000 or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.
No. 9: Section 970 “was enacted to protect migrant workers from the abuses heaped upon them by unscrupulous employers and potential employers, especially involving false promises made to induce migrant workers to move in the first instance.” Tyco Indus., Inc. v. Superior Court, 164 Cal.App.3d 148, 155 (1985); see also Fittante v. Palm Springs Motors, Inc., 105 Cal.App.4th 708, 718 (2003). Even though the original motivation for enacting Section 970 was to protect migrant workers, in practice, Section 970 protects all types of workers.
No. 10: Section 970 “has a public purpose: to protect the community from the harm inflicted when a fraudulently induced employment ceases and the former employee is left in the community without roots or resources and becomes a charge on the community.” Mercuro v. Superior Court, 96 Cal.App.4th 167, 180 (2002).
Click here to read a federal court opinion regarding Section 970.
If you have questions about Section 970, call ((916) 612-0326) or email ([email protected]) Finley Employment Law today. We serve clients throughout California, including Sacramento, Roseville, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, and Concord.
The information in this blog post is for general informational and advertising purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Instead, you should speak with a California employment attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.