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I work as a consultant in a specialized field. I was working for a big company, a leader in the industry, but due to internal conflicts, pretty much all the consultants resigned and went to a different company.

I was one of the last to resign, and shortly after doing so was aggressively recruited by one of the big 4 accounting/consulting firms. They were trying to grow their business for the industry I work in, made a very appealing offer, made it sound like they had plenty of work coming in, etc. I agreed to a one year contract with a sign on bonus.

It turns out everything they had said was false. Not only did they not have any work coming in, resorting to assigning essentially busywork that didn't require special skills to get some moneys worth, but there were no people on my team/in my division with technical expertise. This was quite jarring coming from a company that was an industry leader where everybody had expert knowledge.

11 months in, I realized I didn't want to stay and that there was no chance for things to improve. i was assigned to a one month project, and gave my notice of resignation just over 3 weeks in advanced. I was doing this to be courteous and thought it was the 'nice' thing to do.

They did not take it well, and essentially fired me. They said I was not fired, as they "moved up the date of my resignation". I understand I may potentially be able to sue and have a case for their violating the one year contract I and the company agreed to, and for missed wages

I would like to know if I have a basis for further damages than that. I was not yet a citizen when this happened, and I was too scared to go on unemployment in case it affected my chances at citizenship. I became quite depressed and had trouble finding work, and also feel that almost a yer working for this company who was unable to provide me with the work I had built my career on, harmed my career.

Do I have a basis for suing based on false claims that were made before I joined, damage done to my career, emotional distress/damages or anything similar?

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  • You were going to resign anyway, did the 3 weeks' earlier finish make such a big impact on your career? Also, what's the jurisdiction? – Greendrake Nov 6 '20 at 10:13
  • Ditto, what's the jurisdiction? In the UK an employer can sack an employee with less than two years' employment after adhering to the contractual notice period, or there and then with payment in lieu or notice. (Unless the reason for dismissal was for an unlawful or discriminatory reason which does not seem to be the OP's situation). – Rock Ape Nov 6 '20 at 10:59
  • No. In Somalia, you are lucky just to be fired and not shot. There is no functoning legal system for you to take recourse. That is what you were asking about, right? You didn't include your location so I guessed – Studoku Nov 6 '20 at 11:32
  • @Studoku "In Somalia [...] You didn't include your location so I guessed". The OP mentioned "working for a big company, a leader in the industry" and "recruited by one of the big 4 accounting/consulting firms". What makes you think that Somalia would be a good guess? – Iñaki Viggers Nov 6 '20 at 13:30
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Do I have a basis for suing based on false claims that were made before I joined, damage done to my career, emotional distress/damages or anything similar?

Except for the sign-on bonus if the company intends to recover it, from your description it seems very unlikely that you have a cause of action that would be worth pursuing. The relevant clauses of your contract might be crucial, but you provided no details whatsoever. Therefore, one can only make a vague assessment.

If (1) this happened in a jurisdiction where the doctrine of at-will employment applies by default and (2) your contract does not override it, retaining that employment for almost a year weakens your argument of false claims. That is because the timing of events suggests that you knowingly and willfully benefited for a while (more specifically, you received a sign-on bonus and compensation for work which was easier than you expected), and later changed your mind.

It is unclear whether the employer's false statements inducing you to enter the contract are incorporated in the contract, are conditions precedent, or neither.

As for damage done to your career, you would need to prove that taking and/or retaining that employment implied declining prospective employment elsewhere. Prospective employment refers to a more advanced stage than merely applying and being evaluated for other positions and projects.

The detriment to your career from not working for one year in your field of expertise seems hard to prove.

Relief for emotional distress is hardly ever granted, and it entails having endured brutal conditions. Your description nowhere reflects that this is the case. Nor does your emotional distress qualify for relief pursuant to other legislation such as "work-comp": The emotional distress you experience[d] is the result of your disappointment and boredom rather than something inherent to the nature of the work you performed.

All of the aforementioned points further weaken your legal position if the doctrine of at-will employment or your contract allowed you to resign earlier.

It is also unclear from your post whether the employer is trying to get back the sign-on bonus. The sequence of events indicates that the company abused your 3-week notice. The company's phrase of "mov[ing] up the date of [your] resignation" is devoid of legal merit because they --not you-- are the ones accelerating that date. This means that the employer is in breach of --at least-- the covenant of good faith and fair dealing that is implied in all contracts.

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  • You might want to add that it is extremely common (and legal) for an employer to pay out a notice period rather than have a possibly disgruntled employee damage the business. – Dale M Nov 6 '20 at 21:48
  • @DaleM That sounds reasonable and might be common, although it is unclear whether the OP's employer did so (or even whether the employer tried to recover the sign-on bonus at all). The OP only mentions that he essentially was fired, but did not elaborate on the terms of his termination. – Iñaki Viggers Nov 6 '20 at 23:16
  • the OP says he resigned and the employer brought forward the date of termination – Dale M Nov 6 '20 at 23:45

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