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18 months ago I signed a contract (2 years) to reimburse for

relocation expenses if I voluntarily...
18 months ago I signed a contract (2 years) to reimburse for relocation expenses if I voluntarily quit or was terminated for cause. Since that time, my compensation package (changed nationwide for individuals in my position) was drastically changed; 50% bonus potential to 30%. Since the terms of compensation have changed (from offer letter signed), do I have any recourse to leave without repaying the relocation expense? Thanks.
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Answered in 1 minute by:
5/19/2013
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19,446
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified

Thank you for your question today, I look forward to assisting you. I bring nearly 20 years of legal experience in various disciplines.

 

Ok. You mention an offer letter and you mention a "contract."

 

Does the contract incorporate or mention the offer letter in any way? Does the contract itself specifically state what the terms of your employment will be?

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I'm not sure if you saw my questions, or if you did, why you chose not to answer them. Working with an attorney is a dialogue and we ask questions because the answers are legally significant.

 

I'll try to answer your question, vaguely, without the information that I requested.

 

A contract is meant to be the single representation of the agreement between two parties. So, when you mention an offer letter (which is not a legally binding contract) and a contract requiring reimbursement for moving expenses, my concern is that the contract supersedes the offer letter. Unless the offer letter is specifically referenced in the contract, the offer letter will have no legally binding significance.

 

This doesn't mean that you couldn't have some recourse, but it limits the strength of the recourse. If the contract had incorporated or mentioned the offer letter, it would be very easy for you to claim breach of contract by them, so then you would not be legally held to it yourself (the doctrine of "unclean hands" we call it).

 

If the offer letter is NOT mentioned or incorporated into the contract, then you're left with a more difficult option. You have to allege that you have been "constructively discharged" due to the dramatic change in your compensation package. You have to approach your employer, broach this subject and explain that you will consider yourself constructively discharged and free from the contract if they do not maintain the terms under which you were led to sign the agreement. The employer has to have the opportunity to reject/accept your request (the opportunity to cure) in order for you to properly set up the constructive discharge argument.

 

It's not a guaranteed victory, but it is a legally viable argument on these facts.

Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19,446
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified
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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19,446
19,446 Satisfied Customers
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation

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