Copyright (c) 2005 Willamette Law Review
Willamette Law Review
ARTICLE: DECEITFUL EMPLOYERS: COMMON LAW FRAUD AS A MECHANISM TO REMEDY INTENTIONAL EMPLOYER MISREPRESENTATION IN HIRING
41 Willamette L. Rev. 233
Richard P. Perna*
The capital markets and the investing public have been shaken in recent years by a series of high-profile scandals at companies such as Enron, Arthur Anderson, Tyco, Worldcom, and, most recently, a string of mutual fund companies. But investors are not the only "victims" in this environment. Corporate deceptions on this scale can lead to massive job cuts and employee dislocation affecting both current and former employees. In the early going, when the Enron crisis was still a part of the daily headlines, the media clamor over the interests of employees was almost deafening. 1 Later, when news of the massive accounting fraud at Worldcom broke, even President Bush expressed concern for the employees of the then almost bankrupt company. 2
This concern over the impact of corporate fraud in the contemporary workplace led the author to inquire whether and how employees have used common law fraud actions against current and past employers to remedy the impact of employer misrepresentation. While the effects of a massive Enron-type corporate fraud can be significant and widespread, a review of the recent case law in this area shows that most employee claims of employer misrepresentation result from more "mundane" fact patterns related to employer assertions made during the pre-hiring process. Most of these so called "truth in hiring" 3 claims typically are asserted when employees have accepted new positions in reliance on false statements or promises the employer made during pre-hiring negotiations. Even the most straightforward pre-hiring discussions normally involve ...
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