Washington, DC asked in Contracts and Employment Law for District of Columbia

Q: If I leave beofre 18 months I owe 6K. Is this legal?

I recently interviewed with a company in Tyson's and looked through the sign on contract. In this offer letter there is a clause that states if I leave or am terminated before 18 months I owe them $6000. I do not receive a signing bonus or money up front. This seems very weird to me and I am curious if this is legal or if they are just trying to keep people there for as long as they can. There is no courses, education classes, or certifications being received, only one hour of training a week internally from managers.

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in District of Columbia

A: Usually these types of clauses are tied to educational or training expenses, or paying for professional licenses or certificates, that the employer incurs. The repayment is tied to reimbursement for a valuable benefit provided to the employee who may take the training or professional license and then just leave for another job with another employer. This type of repayment is usually a valid and enforceable contract provision. If it is not tied to any training or professional expense, then it may be an unenforceable penalty. You should have an employment lawyer advise you, but if the employer really wants you and you believe you have leverage, you can always counter that you will not sign with that monetary penalty attached. Further, to should certainly refuse to sign unless the penalty only applies to your voluntary termination of employment. It should not apply to their termination of your employment.

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