Blitz v. Fluor Enterprises, Inc., 115 Cal. App. 4th 185, 8 Cal. Rptr. 3d 833 (2004)

Mr. Blitz had been employed in a financial position at Raytheon in New Jersey for 12 years before he was contacted by a member of Fluor’s management team and offered a job in California. Before resigning his position with Raytheon and moving to California, Blitz told Fluor that he was interested only in “permanent, rather than project-based employment”; Fluor responded by telling Blitz that he was being hired on a “long-term, rather than a project-specific basis.” Only after Blitz had orally committed to employment with Fluor and had resigned his position with Raytheon did Fluor present Blitz with an at-will employment agreement, which Blitz signed after being told that the provision would not be enforced. Approximately two years later, Blitz’s employment with Fluor was terminated, and Blitz filed a lawsuit for violation of Labor Code Section 970 (prohibiting an employer from fraudulently inducing an employee to relocate for employment), fraud and negligent misrepresentation. Fluor contended that Blitz was an at-will employee (relying upon the parties’ agreement) and thus could not have justifiably relied upon any alleged representations of long-term employment. Fluor also argued that the parol evidence rule precluded evidence of the alleged false promises that preceded the execution of the at-will agreement. The Court of Appeal reversed the summary judgment that had been entered in favor of Fluor on the ground that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate a triable issue of fact concerning Fluor’s being estopped from relying upon the at-will agreement.