If I was an employee who voluntarily left the company, am I legally obligated to pay back relocation expenses if it was not so stated in my employment agreement?

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If I was an employee who voluntarily left the company, am I legally obligated to pay back relocation expenses if it was not so stated in my employment agreement?

I accepted an offer for at will employment. The offer said I obligated 1yr. I also was offered relocation. There was no clause stating that if I left within the year that I would be required to pay back a portion or full amount for the accrued expenses. I received an email from my former supervisor stating I owed a prorated portion. HR never contacted nor made me aware of this possibility upon resignation. I never received anything breaking down the charges of the relocation either.

Asked on May 21, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

If you accepted an offer stating you were obligated for a 1 year of employment, then if you left before that year is up, you breached your agreement; that breach may give the company grounds to recover the amounts they paid out--such as relocation costs--based on the agreement; they may also have a claim based on promissory estoppel, or the idea that in reasonable reliance on your promise to stay there for a year, they acted to their detriment by paying to relocate you. Therefore, while it is not a given that they could win if they sue you for the money (since, as you note, there was nothing explicit in the offer about repayment), they do have a valid claim and could potentially win a lawsuit and force you to pay.


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