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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37855
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I have a question about my employement offer letter from a

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I have a question about my employement offer letter from a California employeer. Here is the clause from my offer letter:

"In addition, in order to help you relocate to the Bay Area we are offering a one-time bonus of $35,000 payable upon your transition. If your employment with the Company ends within two (2) years from your employment commencement date as a result of your resignation for any reason or due to a termination by the Company for Cause, then you will be required to repay the Company for amounts paid to you as one-time bonuses. The amount to be repaid shall be a prorated portion of the gross one-time bonus payments based upon your length of employment during the period from your employment commencement date through the one year anniversary of your employment commencement date."

If i were to leave this company withing 11 months of commencement of employment would my required re-embusement be based on a 11 month pro rate over one year or two years?

Good morning,

I'm Doug, and I'm sorry to hear of the confusion.

I can certainly see where you have the problem, and based on a review of the language, it appears that there is likely a typographical error in the offer letter. The way is it written is ambiguous.

It first holds that if you resign or are terminated for cause in the first 2 years that you must repay the bonus. It then goes on to say that the repayment will be a pro rata share based on the number of months worked in the first year. I an certain they intended that to read the second year anniversary of the commencement date. Otherwise, there would be no repayment owed if you resigned, or were terminated for cause after being there just 1 full year---and this is truly in conflict with their stated intent that there will be a repayment owed if you leave before 2 full years.

But if the paragraph were to be strictly construed as written, and you left after exactly 11 months of employment, you would have to repay just 1/12 of the bonus---or $2,916.66.

Keep in mind that the offer letter is not the employment contract, and when they realize their mistake they will move to correct it. So, in fairness to the company, and as a showing of your honesty and good faith, you really should consider bringing this to their attention.

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.

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I wish you the best in 2012,

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for the response. I plan on leave my company in the next few months so its in my self interest to keep the clause how its currently written. Just to confirm, untill my offer letter is revised and signed by me and the company, strictly speaking I will only have to pay back my relocation fees over a 12 month prorated period.





Hi ray,

You can, and you will want to, take the position that you relied on the offer letter when you took the position, and that as the law holds that any ambiguity in an agreement must be found against the drafter of that agreement, and as your employer drafted the agreement, you should be held responsible for a pro rata share of the bonus based only on the number of months worked in the first year.

I wish you well.

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

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