Hiring employees right now is very competitive for employers. When I drive Highway 61 in Hugo, I see 3-5 “HIRING” or “HELP WANTED” banners in front of businesses. Yesterday when I drove home from Duluth, Rush City had multiple billboards along 35E that something like “Tired of the commute to the Cities? Rush City is now hiring. Work close to home!” When searching for a new job, employees will take into consideration many facets of the prospective employer. Knowing that, companies will boast, or puff, about what their company has to offer and all its benefits. While some boasting is legal, the employer must be careful about how they boast and to what extent.
“Employers frequently boast of good benefits, competitive salaries, excellent working conditions and the like. To anoint such puffing language with contractual import would open the door to a plethora of specious litigation and constitute a severe and unwanted intrusion on the ability of business enterprises to manage internal affairs.” Martens v. Minnesota Min. & Mfg. Co., 616 N.W.2d 732, 744–75 n.25 (Minn. 2000) (quotation omitted). Essentially, employers do have the ability to boast about their companies, however, there is a fine line they must not cross.
“False descriptions of specific or absolute characteristics of a product and specific, measurable claims of product superiority based on product testing are not puffery and are actionable.” United Indus., 140 F.3d at 1180. Employers are not allowed to make measurable claims that are not true, although they can make more general statements that are not able to be measured. The critical element is truth. Truth is always protected. The further you stray from the truth, particularly when you lack evidentiary support for the statement, the closer you are to trouble.
If you have an employee point to pre-hiring advertising as a basis for a claim, keep the above in mind. I am here to help apply the law to your case and provide additional legal analysis to your claim.
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