On what grounds can repayment of a signing bonus be challenged?

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On what grounds can repayment of a signing bonus be challenged?

An female employee feels she ways forced out of the company after experiencing

discriminatory treatment and ostracized by her male supervisor. Specifically, less qualified male co-worker was given preferential treatment in terms of work assignments and career development opportunities. Traditional remediation strategies such as performance discussions and establishing career development plans did not work. In consultations with HR, she was told that her only options were to file a formal complaint or leave the company. Upon being told of another offer, the manager commented that taking the offer would be a mutually beneficial decision. She left after 1 year and 1 month. Is this

Asked on December 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if she left to take another offer, then this would very likely be considered voluntarily termination of employment and she would have to repay the agreement. Had she stayed and been laid off or terminated or fired, then if she felt such was due to her being discriminated against or harassed because she was a woman, she would not have to repay, since that is involuntary separation, *and* would likely have also had a legal claim or lawsuit she could pursue. Of if she were transferred to a too-far-away to realistically commute location, or had her pay cut by, say,  20% or more, and left due to that--due to the job becoming untenable in an easily quantified, objective way--she could likely then have argued she was "constructively," or effectively fired (involuntary separation, though it looked voluntary on its face). But you write that she received and took a different job offer: almost always, leaving to take another job is seen as a voluntary separation.


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