Can my employer ask me to return my bonus if I leave?

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Can my employer ask me to return my bonus if I leave?

I have been with my employer for more than 6 years now. Last year (12/09) I offered to resign but my company requested me that I stay.  Accordingly it gave me a promotion and offered to pay me $50K as retention bonus. The payout of this retention bonus happened in 12/09 and 02/10. As a clause, they mentioned this in the “Interim Offer Letter”;Retention Bonus: You will additionally be paid an amount of USD $50,000 as retention bonus out of which $25,000 will be paid in 12/09 and $25,000 will be paid to you by 02/10. I want to leave now, exactly 1 year later.

Asked on December 27, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Washington

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The pay out of the retention bonus is not what one needs to focus on here, and from what you have written it appears that it was already paid out, correct?  What does the rest of the agreement state?  Does it state that you agree to stay for a certain amount of time?  Your agreements are contracts and you need to have someone review them all in order to see what your obligations are here and what your liabilities are.  Take them - the letter, the retention agreement and your original contract, if any - to someone to review on your behalf.  You do not want to get placed in the position of violating the agreement and having to repay the company for the bonus and/or being sued.  Good luck to you.


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