Results 1 to 10 of 10
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: Texas

    Not sure if anyone knows the answer to this or not. I was hired by a company earlier this year and was made to sign an employment contract. It stated that since they had put me through training for my job, I had to work a minimum of 3 years for their company. If I quit my job to work in a different field, there would be no penalty. However, if I quit to work for another company doing the same work, I would have to pay them $30,000; the amount they said it cost to train me. They said it prevented other companies from swooping in and luring employees away with a slightly higher pay, after my company paid money to train me. That sounded fair so I signed it.

    10 months later I decided it wasn't the job field for me. Hated it with a passion. So I quit to go back to what I was doing before, in a totally unrelated field, on the other side of the country. I now got a notice in the mail saying I'm being sued for $30k for quitting my job before the 3 years are up. So I call and tell them it's crap, because I followed the contract by not working in the same industry as stated in the contract. They said the contract doesn't read that way. According to them, the contract says I have to work for them for 3 years PERIOD, or I have to pay them $30k. So I go to get my copy of the contract out of my files. It's missing, got lost in the move somehow. So they fax me over a copy of the contract, and sure enough, it says I can't quit them at all and work anywhere or I owe them 30k.

    First of all, I know it didn't say that when I signed it. I believe they replaced the page with another one that said that. Of course, tough to prove.

    Second, can they even do this? It reminds me of indentured servitude, or the company store. It's not as if they "own" me, and if I don't slave away for them, I have to pay them an outrageous amount of money. It's like blackmail. I hated my job, they treated me like crap, made verbal promises they didn't keep (that I should have gotten in writing), and now because I finally said "enough" and moved on with my life in a totally unrelated field on the other side of the continent, I have to pay them??!!

    EDIT: Even though I live on the other side of the country now, they are saying the national company I am working for is based in Texas, so it doesn't matter that I'm working in a different geographical area, I'm still working for a company that is based in their geographical area. And even though it's in a totally unrelated industry, I still have to repay them the training costs.

    I'm not really sure what to do. I just moved, started a new job, have absolutely $0 because of the move, and I can't hire a lawyer. Right now I almost can't afford the quarter it would cost to call one on a pay phone. Can they do this? Should I tell them to get lost? Should I just settle with them and offer to pay them $20/month until my debt is paid off? Do I need to make a quick trip to Mexico to sell a kidney so I can pay them $30k in a timely manner? Who the heck even has $30k laying around? Do Judges actually order people to pay employers an amount that could take 20 years to pay off and ruin someone's life? Or is this just threats to make other employees afraid to leave?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    75,910

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    Did they put you through training for this job? If so, what was the approximate cost of the training? How much was your salary in comparison to this amount? The penalty is fixed, even if you work 1 day short of the three year period?

    Is there anything you can point to, other than your memory, that backs up your understanding of the contract? Was this provision standard, used with other employees as well?

    When you say you "got a notice in the mail saying I'm being sued", do you mean you were served with a summons and complaint indicating that a lawsuit is presently before a court, or is it that your employer or its law firm sent you a letter saying "Pay us the money or we'll sue"?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    2

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    It was a letter for a law firm representing my former employer saying I have 30 days to pay them 30k or they will sue. The penalty is fixed so I have to work for 3 years, period. I have no way of proving that the contract said I could work in another industry unless I can find my copy.

    The think that really ticks me off is that they aren't out $30k. They said they had to pay $30k to train me, but that's a number they pulled out of "you know where". It was probably far less than that. However, even if it was $30k, even it it was $130k they are still not out any money.

    I had worked for the oil/gas industry checking drilling fluids at drilling rigs. Any time I would set foot on a drilling rig, my company would get paid $250. Multiply that by 3-4 rigs a day, 26 days a month, for 9 months and my company made some great money. Add to that, the company would get paid an extra $550 if I got called out after hours, which happened pretty regularly. I made them over $500,000 while working for them, and it's very petty of them to demand I pay them $30k that I don't have. And very low to force me to hire a lawyer I can't afford to fight this.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    75,910

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    I don't know that I would advise you to contact them directly, lest you say something that they try to use against you. I would consider having a lawyer send a letter back indicating that the liquidated damages clause is unreasonable and unenforceable as it is punitive in nature, not consistent with the cost of training, and not in any way a reasonable estimate of actual damages, and perhaps also that if they push forward they're not going to get any money because you don't have any to pay and at most they would force a bankruptcy. (You and the lawyer can figure out exactly what should go into the letter.) I expect that it will have to pay for an hour or two of the lawyer's time.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Posts
    28,300

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    and it's very petty of them to demand I pay them $30k that I don't have. And very low to force me to hire a lawyer I can't afford to fight this.
    and in the inverse; it's pretty low of a person to sign a contract and not expect to be held to it. Do you expect the car dealer to stick to their contract when you purchase a car? The seller of a house when you sign a contract with them to buy their house? Heck, I bet you expect McDonald's to give you a real beef hamburger when you order a hamburger at one of their restaurants because that is what they contracted with you for and would be quite upset if they gave you something else and would probably demand to be given what you actually contracted for.

    If/when you are sued you can demand the original contract with your signature on the contract so you can verify that that was, or wasn't, the contract you actually signed. Since you misplaced yours, that is your only hope in proving they altered the contract.

    They said they had to pay $30k to train me, but that's a number they pulled out of "you know where". It was probably far less than that.
    Probably? Number they pulled out of their butt?

    any proof or even support for those claims?

    However, even if it was $30k, even it it was $130k they are still not out any money.
    really? because they made money by what they trained you to do? If they didn't have to train you, they would have made that $500k PLUS the $30k the spent training you so yes, they are out money.

    I'm not really sure what to do. I just moved, started a new job, have absolutely $0 because of the move, and I can't hire a lawyer. Right now I almost can't afford the quarter it would cost to call one on a pay phone.
    that was your choice, not theirs.

    Can they do this?
    from what you have posted, yes.

    Should I tell them to get lost?
    not a good idea.

    Should I just settle with them and offer to pay them $20/month until my debt is paid off?
    I expect they would not agree to such a payment offer and they don't have to.

    Do I need to make a quick trip to Mexico to sell a kidney so I can pay them $30k in a timely manner?
    so far that actually is about the most realistic idea.

    Who the heck even has $30k laying around?
    Well, I do but whether I do or anybody else does is irrelevant to the matter.

    Do Judges actually order people to pay employers an amount that could take 20 years to pay off and ruin someone's life?
    Do you mean: do judges actually enforce legitimate contracts even though one party doesn't want to pay what they agreed to? Absolutely; yes, they do.

    Or is this just threats to make other employees afraid to leave?
    sometimes it is but since they have actually hired a law firm to collect on the contract, I suspect not in this case.

    I was hired by a company earlier this year
    the fact you worked for this company for less than a year is a serious problem for you. While Mr. K was suggesting that the amount owed might be more properly reduced as time passes and they have recouped some of their costs over that time, having been well less than a year would make that a moot point.


    as Mr. K suggested, your best bet is to actually pay a lawyer to read your contract and listen to your rendition of the situation and give you an opinion as to the enforceability of the contract. If the lawyer does give you much hope at winning, you might want to consider booking travelling plans to Mexico.

    btw: there is a good chance you will have to travel back across the country to deal with this should they sue you. You would want to ask the lawyer you hire for an opinion to advise you as to whether you have any chance of making them come to your current state to sue you. If you can't make them come to your state, you will likely want to find a lawyer that practices in whatever state the company files suit and figure out how to travel to that state, the almost assuredly multiple times, when needed.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    I agree with most of the foregoing. You have to locate an attorney (preferably one knowledgeable of employment law in Texas) to analyze your agreement. While it may be “tough” for you to pay counsel for advice, it will be far tougher to pay $30K plus possible attorney’s fees of the defendant employer. (I, of course, have not seen your employment agreement. I would nonetheless be willing to bet a $1 that it includes an attorney’s fees provision. Check the agreement again.)

    If there is a ray of hope here, the courts generally frown upon non-competition agreements. For the most part, judges will only enforce such agreements when they fully comply with applicable state law. It is possible your counsel can find a basis to strike down or nullify this agreement.

    Separately, there is virtually no chance the employer will sue you in the state in which you current reside. If warranted and necessary, the company’s lawyers will sue you in Texas because they have the legal right (e.g., “minimum contacts”) to do so and because it is substantially more convenient for the employer and the attorneys.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    CT & IL
    Posts
    5,276

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    The OP does not need a lawyer until they actually file a suit. Talking to one before that is just tossing $$ down the drain.

    Do not offer to pay it off & your $20/mo. offer is a joke.

    I would not even respond. And if you think the contract said something else, you should re-double you effort to find it otherwise, the existing contract that they have may prevail.

    It appears is if they would have to justify the $30,000 bill if they said it was to reimburse them for training costs. If it is enforceable at all.

    And judges will rule according to the evidence and contract involved; your claim you have no money will have no effect.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. OP, you can, of course, essentially ignore the fact your former employer has already enlisted counsel to send you a demand letter seeking $30K in liquidated damages (plus anything else available under the contract). You can also ignore the fact the company’s lawyers evidently know where you live despite the fact you moved to the east coast.

    However, you are essentially betting on the prospect these lawyers will not file suit and serve you in short order (as they promised to do within 30 days of your receipt of their demand letter). IMHO, this is an exceptionally bad bet!

    Once you are served, you will have a very short time, i.e., a matter of weeks, to file an answer or otherwise respond in court to the summons and complaint. Finding an employment law attorney is not easy under any circumstances. It can prove to be even more difficult to do within a matter of weeks. For this reason as well as others, you should commence looking for knowledgeable counsel NOW. In order for you have a more definitive assessment of where you stand, the cost of a consultation and/or an hour or two of research will prove more than worthwhile.

    Moreover, if the agreement is enforceable in general and the liquidated damages provision is valid in particular, then the company would not have to prove the value of the damage you caused by quitting. By definition, this is the purpose of a liquidated damages provision. While such a provision may be unduly onerous and may not be enforceable as a matter of law in Texas, you want to make such a determination sooner rather than later with local counsel.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    Merida, Mexico
    Posts
    1,454

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    You're not being sued for quitting your job, you're being sued for knowingly and negligently breaking a contract.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    75,910

    Default Re: Being Sued for Quitting My Job

    Quote Quoting davidmcbeth3
    View Post
    The OP does not need a lawyer until they actually file a suit. Talking to one before that is just tossing $$ down the drain.
    If having a lawyer briefly respond to the threat causes the former employer to back off, that's a good thing and should not be expensive. Ignoring the letter may make the former employer more confident about suing and getting, in all likelihood, a default judgment. We don't know the former employer's intentions so it's not possible to speak in definitive terms about what will or will not happen if the letter is ignored.
    Quote Quoting davidmcbeth3
    Do not offer to pay it off & your $20/mo. offer is a joke.
    Agreed on both counts. You don't want to commit to repayment, they won't accept $20 per month, and you don't want to create any form of confession of the debt or contract for repayment when, absent that action, it might not be enforceable.
    Quote Quoting davidmcbeth3
    your claim you have no money will have no effect.
    If the law firm and company come to understand that they're dealing with a stone, the odds go down that they'll try to wring blood from it.
    Quote Quoting eerelations
    View Post
    You're not being sued for quitting your job, you're being sued for knowingly and negligently breaking a contract.
    This does not appear to be something that could be characterized as a negligence action.

    1. Sponsored Links
       

Similar Threads

  1. Resignation: When Do You Have to Tell Your Employer You're Quitting for a New Job
    By zeda in forum Resignation and Termination
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: 08-03-2011, 08:35 PM
  2. Resignation: Can an Employee be Sued for Not Giving Sufficient Notice when Quitting
    By anonymous1234 in forum Resignation and Termination
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 05-03-2011, 12:12 AM
  3. Disqualification: Disqualified Quitting for Another Job
    By zoober in forum Unemployment Insurance
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 02-09-2011, 02:59 PM
  4. Job Benefits: Vacation Pay After Quitting a Job
    By alicia6266 in forum Compensation and Terms of Employment
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-10-2010, 01:16 PM
  5. Quitting and Getting UI
    By LotsOfNoodles in forum Resignation and Termination
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 04-14-2010, 10:00 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
 
Forum Sponsor
Employment Termination Form
Forms packages help your company comply with the law and avoid litigation.




Untitled Document