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Agreement to Repay Bonus Advance in CA state, I've been employed for the past 6 months, can I leave now?

San Jose, CA |

Before joining, I signed an agreement with my present employer to repay sign-on bonus should I decide to leave. The agreement stated that I should pay back 100% of sign-on bonus if I leave within 9 months of employment, less than 14 months 67% and 14 months to less than 18 months 33%. It also stated that this Agreement is governed by the laws of the State of New York, regardless of my location. If I fail to repay any amount due from me under this Agreement, the Firm may bring an action in court to recover the amount due. The acceptance by the Firm of partial or delinquent payments, or failure of the Firm to exercise any rights under this Agreement, shall not waive any of my obligations or the rights of the Firm, modify this Agreement or waive any other breach of this Agreement by me.

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Attorney answers 3

Best Answer
Posted

A New York attorney will have to address this issue because New York law will apply. However, were this a California issue, there is nothing preventing the employer from enforcing this contract unless other facts exist that you have not disclosed.

You can leave any time you want, but you will face the consequences of that decision. You might be able to negotiate some buyout less than the contract amount.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

Posted

You signed a contract.

You can leave.

The employer can sue for breach of contract to recover the bonus.

David Mallen

David A. Mallen offers answers on Avvo for general information only. This offer of free, general answers is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. If you need specific advice regarding your legal question, you should consult an attorney confidentially. Many experienced California labor and employment attorneys, including David A. Mallen offer no-risk legal consultations to employers and employees at no charge. David A. Mallen is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, as well as the California Labor Commissioner and the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Failure to take legal action within the time periods prescribed by law could result in the loss of important legal rights and remedies.

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the info, so the contract is legally valid?

David Andrew Mallen

David Andrew Mallen

Posted

A lawyer would need to analyze the terms and the choice of law provisions.

Posted

I suggest you take the contract to a California employment attorney for analysis. First, California aggressively enforces its labor and employment laws, and it is likely that California law would apply if you working within the state, regardless of the provision claiming NY law applies. Second, depending on the details of the "bonus," California law may deem it an earned commission, which would mean it is earned wages and the employer may not require you to repay it.

But no one can tell you if any of the above applies to your situation without reading the exact language of the contract and also learning the nature of the bonus.

twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

Asker

Posted

Thanks for the info, does that mean the contract is legally valid in CA?

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Posted

The contract might or might not be. This is an area of law that is heavily dependent on many facts, including the circumstances of your employment and the contract language, applicable law, and more. If there is a lot of money at stake then you may want to hire an attorney to review the contract and your work situation, and provide you with a legal opinion. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org. Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state. I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Posted

One more thing. If the contract is enforceable, all of it or some of it may be interpreted under California law, or some provisions may be unenforceable. Again, something for an attorney to analyze.

Asker

Posted

thanks much!