Can I seek damages?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I seek damages?

Hello, I left a very high paying job, moved my family out of state on the promise of a certain amount of money. when we got here they admitted they lied to get us here. We are now behind on all of our debt, we also live where we work and they are mentally abusing our family and just asked me to take on 90 of all the work 120 hours a week. we are done with this do we have any legal recourse? no contracts where signed just verbal, but a lot of witnesses who where told what we where promised.

Asked on November 28, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

You can sue your employer for fraud.  Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation of a material fact made with knowledge of its falsity and with the intent to induce your reliance upon which you justifiably relied to your detriment.
In other words, you would not have taken the job and moved to another state had you known the true facts.
Damages for fraud include punitive damages which are a substantial amount to punish the intentional wrongful acts of the defendant (your employer).
Your lawsuit can also include another cause of action (claim) for intentional infliction of emotional distress for the mental abuse of your family.  Intentional infliction of emotional distress is an extreme and outrageous act intended to cause and which does cause emotional distress.  You can also seek punitive damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Although there wasn't any written contract, you can claim the verbal agreement is a contract based on promissory estoppel.  Promissory estoppel means that you detrimentally relied on the representations of your employer and changed your position (taking the job, moving to another state, etc.) based on those representations.  Therefore, the employer is estopped (prevented) from denying the existence of a contract which means you have another cause of action (claim) in your lawsuit for breach of contract.
Even without the contract argument, you have a strong case for fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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