If an employer changes a bonus structure offered as an agreement of employment, have they breached

I intereviewed with a health company regarding a position which included relocation from Texas to Virginia. They included as part of the offer/ agreement, inclusion of an incentive bonus which was heavly touted as lecurative. After relocation and being employeed less than one month the employeer has changed/ reduced the benefit structure which will significantly reduce annual income from the originally agreed terms. Does this constitue breach of contract and does this effect repayment of relocation allowances and retention bonus??

1 answer  |  asked Jun 10, 2013 6:27 PM [EST]  |  applies to Virginia

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
First, I am not answering your question based on Virginia law. I am licensed in Ohio, not Virginia, so you will need to consult with a VA lawyer for specific legal advice.

That said, the issue that I see in your question is whether or not the employer made an agreement to pay a specific amount, or whether the employer kept enough wiggle room on the promise to try to get out of it. For example, if the promise was "a generous bonus," then the employer has a lot of room to interpret "generous." If, on the other hand, the bonus was "50% of salary paid at year's end," then the court has a specific promise that it can order the employer to keep.

As for how a breach affects other parts of the contract, an employer breach in some states can relieve the employee of its obligations in the same agreement. So, if your employment agreement contains a bonus provision and a non-compete, and the employer breaches the bonus, then, in Ohio at least, you have a potential defense to the non-compete.

If any of these issues apply, I encourage you to contact a Virginia employment lawyer.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jun 11, 2013 06:50 AM [EST]

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