Labor Law

Common-Law Fraud

In addition to statutory protections, an employee may rely on common-law theory of fraud to bring a lawsuit against a prospective employer or current employer who has misled them in connection with a dismissal or job offer.

When an applicant believes an employer was misleading about a job offer or a former employee thinks an employer may have misled them about the reasons for being fired, applicants and former employees can sue an employer under common-law fraud.

There are typically nine elements of common-law fraud:

  • a representation of fact the potential employer or former employer made
  • the information's falsity—that is, knowledge that the information was untrue
  • the materiality—in other words, relevance to the case
  • the representer's knowledge of the falsity or ignorance of the truth
  • the representer's intent that the applicant or employee should act on it
  • the injured party's ignorance of its falsity
  • the injured party's reliance upon its truth
  • the injured party's right to rely on its truth
  • the injured party's resulting, related injury

Facts and timelines are critical in these claims. The person bringing the lawsuit needs to show that the opposing party or employer was acting, either with specific intent or in a reckless manner, to disadvantage the person through false information or misleading facts. To be actionable, the alleged misrepresentation must have caused the loss to the recipient. The harm must be something beyond minor damages, the chance of harm, or the threat of future problems.