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Penalty in an "at will" contract? Florida

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  • Penalty in an "at will" contract? Florida

    I am under an "at will" employment contract. This is stated at least four times in the agreement. What I'm not sure is about this clause (see below). I already signed it, but what if in the future I want to resign? That sounds a little bit as a "slavery?". Is a contract with that kind of clause, which is also an "at will" contract, enforceable?

    Thanks a lot for any ideas!

    This is the clause:
    In the event that the Employee (...) resigns voluntarily within XX months after the commencement of employment (...) the Employee shall pay the Employer as reimbursement the amount expended by the Employer to cover recruiting, relocation, orientation, and training expenses, and shall also pay any other debts/damages owed to Employer. In any event that amount shall not be less than $XXX.00

  • #2
    Sounds like it changes the nature of your at-will contract. However, you should run the whole thing by an attorney to ensure that some other bits don't negate/mitigate this bit.

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    • #3
      Agree, take the contract/agreement to an employment or contract attorney in your area for review & advice.
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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      • #4
        I don't see an issue, but you can always take the whole to an attorney for advice.

        While the employer is stating at will employment, there are still consequences for you deciding to leave "at will" within a certain period of time. That could be something as simple (in some states where it is legal) as not paying out unused PTO if you don't give 2 weeks notice. That requirement doesn't change the nature of at will.

        These types of clauses are very common when the employer has paid relocation and other high expenses. There is often a clawback if you don't stay for a certain period after the relocation/hiring/training. So you aren't under contract to actually stay and can leave at will, you just might owe them $s back if you don't stay long enough. So in reality the two aren't contradicting each other. And honestly, its better than a clause that says if you leave for any reason (i.e. if the employer chooses to terminate you), you would still have to pay.

        And yes it is generally enforceable with out being able to read the whole contract. The employer might be able to withhold any earnings or PTO not paid out already that is above minimum wage/salary requirements for the last check, but on the rest if you didn't agree to pay voluntarily, they would have to go to court and get a judgment and then try somehow to recover. That's not always possible, but it's often the threat of doing so that keeps the employee there for that minimum amount of time.

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        • #5
          Agreed with the other answers although the employer is not very bright. They are taking something easy and turning it into something hard. A smart employer would formally lend the money for the relocation and conditionally forgive the loan over time.

          Not the question but most attornies know a lot about contract law but next to nothing about labor law. The cited contract clause is a good example.
          Last edited by DAW; 08-31-2016, 07:53 AM.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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