A former assistant manager for a Texas convenience store is being sued by her ex-employer for leaving before her employment contract expired.
According to the lawsuit, Kelley Rieves started working for the Buc-ee’s store in Cypress, Texas as an assistant manager in 2009, signing employment contracts that ran through August 2013. However, Buc-ee’s claims that Rieves left the company in July 2012, with a year remaining on her contract. The company claimed that Rieves owed $67,720 in retention pay that was paid to her contingent on her completing her contract.
“Retention bonuses are not unusual and are a way for companies to invest in valuable employees,” said Gregory D. Jordan, an Austin employment attorney with the Law Offices of Gregory D. Jordan. “An employee who is considering signing a contract that contains a retention bonus should seriously consider having it reviewed by an attorney since there could be unexpected liabilities. Sometimes employees might be tempted to look at the bottom line number and not evaluate what will happen if circumstances with the employer change.”
Rieves and Buc-ee’s filed suit against each other in the 165th State District Civil Court. A judge ruled that Rieves owes the company $100,000, including legal fees and interest. Buc-ee’s claims that Rieves’ contract divided her pay into normal pay and retention pay, and required her to give six months’ notice before leaving the company. The company said that when Rieves expressed a desire to leave, Buc-ee’s offered her a choice of accepting a loan to repay the retention bonus or having her new employer buy her out of the contract, but she left without making such arrangements.
Rieves said she does not have the money to repay Buc-ee’s. Her attorney said that according to Texas law, at-will employees cannot be prevented from leaving or be required to pay monetary penalties for doing so. Rieves is appealing the latest decision from the judge in her case.