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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27888
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I signed a contract with Bechtel that requires paying back

Customer Question

I signed a contract with Bechtel that requires paying back of relocation costs if you leave within 12 months, which for me would be July 2013. They moved me from Maryland to Nevada on a Short Term Assignment (August 2012 to April 2013). I cannot figure out what counts as a relocation cost and what I would be responsible to pay back if I left at the end of April 2013. I flew out here, had temporary living conditions for two weeks, during which I stayed in a hotel and had a rental car, I have per diem for meals and lodging during the extent of my assignment, I shipped 1000 lbs of stuff under their moving company, they shipped my car out here, and I receive a trip home every month. They will take whatever you owe out of your last pay check and then expect the remainder to be paid back within 10 days of leaving. It is an At-Will employment.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good morning Julie,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.

While many companies have a clause requiring repayment of relocation expenses if the employee does not stay for a specific period of time, not all employers chase employees who leave early for what is not recovered from a final paycheck either. The fact that your company didn't chase the employee they paid the lump sum to would suggest that there is less likelihood they will chase you either.

Relocation expenses are essentially all costs paid by a company to get an employee and their possessions from point A to point B and into their new, permanent living quarters. So, the shipping of your car, your flight, and the cost of putting you up until you moved into your new place would all be collectible costs, as would be the rental car while yours was being shipped.

The flights back home each month are not "relocation expenses" and would not be collectible back from you. The per diem you are getting paid---once you were into your permanent residence---is not considerable as relocation expenses either.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.


Please remember to press the smiley faces/stars on the right of your screen when we are finished with our communication so I will be credited for my time in assisting you. Kindly remember to ONLY rate my answer when you are fully satisfied. If you feel the need to rate anything less than OK, please stop and contact me with whatever issue or clarification you may need. I will be happy to continue further and assist you until I am able to address your concerns to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

LawTalk, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 27888
Experience: I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
LawTalk and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Doug,


 


Thank you very much for your detailed response. It appears I will be on board until July. My contract is up July 9th. If I give my two weeks notice on June 27th, so that I can depart on July 11th, will I be at any risk of owning relocation costs to my employer?


 


Also, will I be able to keep my healthcare for the month of July?


 


Thank you,


 


Julie

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good evening Julie,

So long as you neither quit, nor be terminated for cause, before the 12 month deadline for having to pay the relocation expensed, it doesn't matter when you give notice of your intent to resign. You could, in theory, tell them tomorrow that you will not remain past your one year anniversary, and that would not create a situation where they could look to you for reimbursement.

You are free to give a two week notice to your employer. If they were to terminate you without cause based on you giving notice, that would result in the destruction of their right to collect the relocation costs they paid.

I wish you the best in your future.

Doug
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you Doug, that is very helpful information. If I quit at the 12-month mark or if I let them know of my intentions they terminated me without cause before that, would I have healthcare for the remainder of the month given that my release date is July 9th?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Hi Julie,

Your health care, to the extent that it had already been paid for the month in which you leave or are terminated, would remain in force for the remainder of that given month. Thereafter, you would be eligible to elect for COBRA benefits for at least 18 months thereafter. The only difference being that you would pay the entire premium for your health benefits---the employer would not have to contribute.

You may reply back to me again, using the Reply to Expert link, if you have additional questions.

Until you rate me highly for my service, I will not be credited with helping you. Would you please rate me now, based on my assistance to you in understanding the law.

I wish you well,

Doug

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