Who is the moving party in my termination?

I recently put in a 2 week notice at my current employer, who then informed me that I was immediately terminated without pay for the 2 week period. While this is fine and understandable, I signed an agreement upon hire which states that,

Asked on June 5, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You clearly are not entitled to unemployment: you had already said you were leaving, so you made the decision to separate voluntarily from employment. Once you make that decision and notify your employer you are quitting/resigning/etc. you are ineligble for unemployment benefits.
As to the reimbursement: the language quoted says "specifically to work for a competitor": a strong argument can be made that you only have to reimburse, regardless of when or how you leave, if you do so to work for a competitor. If you are not doing so, they may not be entitled to the reimbursement. That is how the agreement, at least the part you quoted, is written.
If you are leaving to work for a competitor, then if you gave your notice within the first year, you most likely have to repay: the law generally holds that once you announce you are leaving, your separation is effective for purposes of reimbursement, qualifying for bonuses or other time-based benefits, etc. You cannot inform the employer you are not going to keep working for them while still taking advantage of a benefit (or a lack of penalty) meant to incentivize employees to continue their employment. Certainly, if even with the 2 weeks notice, you were within the first year, you'd absolutely have to repay if you went to work for a competitor; if the two weeks would have put you over the first year mark, you have an argument for not repaying, but it's a weak argument, since it flies against the plain purpose of the provision, which is to encourage longer-term retention.
In the future, do not provide notice of leaving until comfortably past any such contractual periods.

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