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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 6934
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My daughter put in for a transfer from northern california

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My daughter put in for a transfer from northern california to southern california and was granted this transfer. She recieved a letter stating that she would be finished by the end of July and was verbally told her last day would be Jully 31st 2012. On July 29th she was told due to another manager being put on administrative leave she would not be transfered. She informed her employer that she had put a deposit on an appt and signed a lease in southern california and advised them that her last day would be the 31st per their agreement. She went to work today and was told they were going to cut their losses and that her check would be ready tomorrow. she returned her keys and left. Is any of this legal?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. My goal is to answer your question completely and thoroughly and to provide excellent service.

I am so sorry to hear about your daughter's employment situation. I can only imagine how frustrated I would be if I relied on representations of my employer and then wound up not only putting money down for a lease I wouldn't need, but also ended up laid off. I assume that when you say your daughter's employer told her they were going to "cut their losses" that indeed they are firing her.

If that is the case, I am afraid the news I have to tell you isn't that great.

Absent an employment contract guaranteeing employment for a specified period of time, employment in the state of California is presumed to be "at will." More specifically, California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other."

What this means is that an employer is free to terminate employees at any time whatsoever, even if that time is terribly inconvenient, unless the underlying motivation is discriminatory or otherwise in violation of California law. This means that an employer is typically free to let an employee go to "cut their losses," even if they had just granted that employee a transfer to a different branch location.

The only conceivable exception to this general rule, absent proof of discriminatory motives, would be based upon the equitable theory of "detrimental reliance." Detrimental reliance is a legal theory that entitles a claimant to damages where they were promised something, they reasonably and foreseeably relied on that promise, and then were harmed as a result of that reliance.

The problem is that due to the doctrine of "at will" employment described above, there is an implied assumption that employment can end at any time and, thus, that any reliance on a transfer or continued employment is not "reasonable." For this reason, detrimental reliance claims in the context of employment are typically long shots to win. It is possible though.

In your daughter's case, her reliance on the promise of a transfer resulted in her putting money down for an apartment in a different city. Presumably, that money will now be lost since she will not be moving. Putting money down on an apartment in the city where she was told she would be working is arguably quite "reasonable." It is certainly also "foreseeable."

Thus, an individual in your daughter's circumstance would have at least a decent shot on a claim for detrimental reliance to recover the amount of her lease deposit, assuming that amount will be lost.

Beyond this, however, no claim for wrongful termination would exist unless she could demonstrate discriminatory motives (race, religious creed, color, national origin, ancestry, physical disability, mental disability, medical condition, marital status, sex, age (over 40), or sexual orientation), which you have not indicated you suspect.

So to summarize, the doctrine of "at will" employment unfortunately means that an employer can deny a transfer and/or fire an employee at any time for any reason, regardless of the inconvenience it may cause. However, in exceptional circumstances, an individual may have a claim for detrimental reliance if they relied on a promise of their employer and incurred monetary harm in reasonable and foreseeable reliance on that promise. The circumstances you describe involving your daughter's lease would make a decent case on such theory, though cases for detrimental reliance are typically quite hard to win.

I realize that the law is not entirely in your favor here and I am truly sorry to have to deliver partially bad news. Nonetheless, I trust that you will appreciate an accurate explanation of the law and realize that it would be unprofessional of me and unfair to you to provide you with anything less.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

If you do not have any further concerns, I would be very grateful if you would give my answer a positive rating and click submit, as this is the only way I will receive credit for assisting you. If you have any additional concerns that you would like me to address, please feel free to let me know by hitting the REPLY or CONTINUE CONVERSATION button and I will be more than happy to continue assisting you.

Finally, please bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Thank you and very kindest regards.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
both my daughter and I believe that this would have never happened to a man or to someone who was older than 23. She was the youngest manager in the company. But it is what it is. thank you
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Denise,

Thank you very much for your reply. Again, I am so sorry that the law is not more favorable to your daughter's situation.

If your daughter's gender played any role in her employer's decision to let her go, that would constitute actionable discrimination and give rise to a claim for wrongful termination. However, more than a mere suspicion that gender played a role would be required. As a plaintiff, your daughter would need to be able to cite articulable facts to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that her termination was discriminatory.

An individual who believes he or she has been the subject of unlawful discrimination and wishes to file a lawsuit must first file a formal complaint of discrimination with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California's Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Either the EEOC or the DFEH will issue an authorization to sue after they investigate the claim. A claimant need to file with both agencies. Finally, if an individual in your circumstance decides to sue, they must not miss their deadline. Under federal law in California, a claimant has 300 days from an act of discrimination to file a complaint.

For information on how to bring a claim through California's DFEH, visit this link: http://www.dfeh.ca.gov/Complaints.htm For information on how to bring a claim through the EEOC, visit this link: http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm

Again, I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best. If I have answered your question, I would be very grateful for a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you.

Kindest regards.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6934
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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