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California starts with the default presumption that employment is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated or modified at any time for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis is fair, reasonable or even true.
Notwithstanding that your employment was likely "at will," you may have recourse pursuant to Labor Code sections 970-972, which state in relevant part as follows:
"970. 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 . . .
971. Any person, or agent or officer thereof, who violates Section 970 is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than fifty dollars ($50) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) or imprisonment for not more than six months or both.
972. In addition to such criminal penalty, any person, or agent or officer thereof who violates any provision of Section 970 is liable to the party aggrieved, in a civil action, for double damages resulting from such misrepresentations. Such civil action may be brought by an aggrieved person or his assigns or successors in interest, without first establishing any criminal liability."
In other words, if you can prove that you were lured to accept the job in BAD FAITH and that your employer KNEW that your job was going to change once you started work but essentially committed fraud against you, you may have a claim for damages. Whether your employer operated in bad faith will be a question of fact, meaning it will be up to a jury to decide based upon the unique circumstances of your case.
Put in lay terms, this means that you may have a case, or at the very least enough leverage to negotiate some sort of severance agreement in exchange for a waiver of your right to sue. Therefore, if you desire to leave this job, it would be in your best interest to immediately retain a local attorney. CELA is a great resource for locating someone who can help. See here: http://www.cela.org/?page=4
A case like this would typically be accepted on a pure contingency basis. If you don't know, a contingency fee arrangement is one in which the attorney receives a portion of the client's settlement or award as his payment, typically 1/3 of the total amount. If there is no recovery, the attorney does not get paid. The client never pays until the settlement or award is obtained (except perhaps to cover the filing costs for his claim).
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