When Chandramouli Vaidyanathan quit his job to take a position with Seagate Technologies, and was later laid off, he sued and eventually won $1.9 million in damages. The jury found that Seagate had violated a little known Minnesota law dealing with “False Statements as Inducement to Entering Employment.”
Human Resource Legal Resource reports that Vaidyanathan initially accepted a position he thought was the lead for Seagate’s Yield Engineering Team. He later discovered that the position was not what he’d been led to expect. He was transferred to another job before being laid off.
In Vaidyanathan’s case, the evidence established that Seagate made a clear and definite promise to Vaidyanathan that his job would be to lead the company’s yield engineering team. According to the Court, Seagate’s promise was, however, “made, in part, out of ignorance and a lack of sufficient information,” and Vaidyanathan testified that he never did any yield engineering work for Seagate.
After a seven-day trial, the jury concluded that Seagate knowingly made false representations to Vaidyanathan about the kind and character of his work and that Seagate’s misrepresentation induced him to take the job and move to Minnesota from Texas. The jury then awarded Vaidyanathan, whose starting salary had been $126,048.00, $1.9 million in damages.
After all the dust settled from the trial and post trial motions and counter motions, Seagate’s total liability to Vaidyanathan sits at $2.4 million.
I know that a lot of us have had our share of run ins with misleading hiring practices, but this is definitely a cautionary tale that I’m sure is sending shock waves through the hiring community, especially those doing business in Minnesota.