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I entered into a program which comprised of going to a specific trade school with an explicit promise of a one year paid apprenticeship upon successful completion. At the end of the program, I was told that the apprenticeship was not guaranteed and that, although they were sorry for misrepresenting themselves, they would work to secure employment for the graduates of the program. I recently received an email stating that they would no longer be providing any assistance.

The terms of the promise were:

"Start a paid apprenticeship: You'll start working right after you graduate from the bootcamp, in a paid apprenticeship with one of our hiring partners...which includes companies like Amazon, iFixit and PG&E!"

Do I have a reasonable claim for lost wages based on the promise of employment?

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Sep 12 at 0:57
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    Was that an "extended discussion"? I see three separate users asking three separate questions. – bdb484 Sep 12 at 4:22
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Yes.

Technically, it would probably not be a claim for lost wages (which are usually awarded when someone injures you in a way that leaves you unable to work) but rather a claim for breach of contract. In that case, you would seek damages equal to the wages that you would have reasonably expected to earn.

Keep in mind, though, that before making an award of contract damages, a court may expect to see proof that you've attempted to mitigate your damages, meaning that you tried to find work to replace the work that was promised.

If you were promised a $100,000 apprenticeship, for instance, and you found a $75,000 apprenticeship, you would be eligible for the difference: $25,000 in damages. If you make reasonable efforts to find work but are unsuccessful, you'd be eligible for the full $100,000.

If you make no efforts to mitigate, a court may deny damages altogether, or award "nominal" damages, which usually means $1.

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It is noteworthy you might also have a claim of fraud. The prima facie elements of fraud are quite uniform among jurisdictions in the U.S. (although it is unclear what your jurisdiction is). See Conroy v. Regents of University of California, 45 Cal.4th 1244, 1255 (2009):

The elements of fraud, which give rise to the tort action for deceit, are (1) a misrepresentation, (2) with knowledge of its falsity, (3) with the intent to induce another's reliance on the misrepresentation, (4) justifiable reliance, and (5) resulting damage.

This might be of your interest because at least some jurisdictions in the U.S. award treble damages in claims of fraud.

Although in this case recovery for fraud and for breach of contract would be mutually exclusive, you might want to do the numbers and compare which remedy is preferable and/or more viable. The amount of treble damages arising from tuition and other provable losses might exceed the compensation of the fraudulently promised one-year apprenticeship.

Since here a claim fraud would be premised on losses you *incurred toward completion of the program, mitigation of damages is not relevant in that claim. That being said, the prima facie element that appears most difficult to prove is the entity's knowledge of falsity (see element (2) from the excerpt above).

One first attempt to prove "knowledge of falsity" could consist of scrutinizing whether the entity truly had actual hiring relations with Amazon, PG&E, or the like, based on the misrepresentations it made to you. This scrutiny would take place during discovery (assuming that you sue the entity), since only there is where the entity could be forced to comply with subpoenas --especially subpoenas duces tecum-- or else be subjected to what is known as an adverse inference of fact.

Edited to add ...

In the comments, which were hastily moved to chat, you asked:

In the case that you mention, a summary judgement was awarded for the defendant. Wouldn't that generally be taken to be a negative outcome for the plaintiff?

To which I answered:

No. I cited Conroy only as reference of the prima facie elements of fraud, regardless of the decision reached therein. But looking at the Conroy decision in particular, the court alleges (even if falsely, which courts sometimes blatantly do and the rest of us cannot know for sure whether they did it here) that the plaintiff failed to produce evidence of misrepresentations and of reasonable reliance. That alleged failure is specific to that case and not to be construed as general one.

Although self-explanatory, I am incorporating our comments/exchange to this answer because your follow-up inquiry (i.e., the purpose of some citations) is relevant and should not get lost through the eventual purging of a chat.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Dale M Sep 12 at 1:00
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    I'm now even more confused by the aggressive removal of comments since the moderator election. The suggestion that four comments could be considered "extended discussion" is totally foreign to me. – bdb484 Sep 12 at 4:31
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    @bdb484 I agree. A question on Law Meta is probably in order. – phoog Sep 12 at 20:03
  • @bdb484 here's a meta post about this if you look at his actions his been doing this a lot. – User37849012643 Sep 24 at 4:31

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