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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 117458
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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So, I work for the Federal government and was payed a relocation

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So, I work for the Federal government and was payed a relocation bonus in July with a one year commitment. The government has shut down and isn't paying my salary. In addition, I am in a position where we are told that we MUST work irrespective of whether we are getting paid. If we are out for any reason save a dire emergency we will be considered AWOL and terminated. So, I can't look for work because of my job requirements AND I am not getting paid. If I just out right quit, do I have to pay back the signing bonus? I mean their part of the deal was that I would get paid a regular paycheck right?
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

As this is only a temporary condition and they have a past history of making up pay to those who have been in this situation previously, I am afraid that if you quit based on them being shut down, you would have to repay the bonus you received. At this point, this is a situation that while you could leave, they will argue against you receiving unemployment as they would argue your pay would be made up retroactive and that the bonus would have to be repaid.

Unfortunately, the only other thing you could do here is seek a local attorney to consider bringing suit against them under the Fair Labor Standards Act, for non-payment of wages, which states that employees must be paid for work and you have to prove they will not be paying you for work and if you prove they will not be paying you then you would have the argument they breached their agreement which would be sufficient to argue the bonus is not due back to them. It is going to be a tough claim if they can show they have historically made retroactive payments.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Is there a time limit where say, when I run out of money and can't pay my rent and will get evicted, or do I have to keep working indefinitely? I don't care about unemployment. I just want to find another job ASAP.

Thank you for your response.

The last shutdown lasted about 22 days, that is all we have to go off of and they paid back all of the employees who worked. There is really no time limit in the law that you can specifically claim, you would have to fight this on the "reasonableness" issue which would mean it is open to subjective interpretation of a court I am afraid.
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