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I'm almost 2 months into an internal transfer. I found a position on our internal careers site, applied, and was accepted. The company paid for relocation, including a hefty cost-of-living adjustment. I took this position both for personal and career reasons - the position seemed more in line with my career aspirations.

Now that I'm 2 months in, I am pretty unhappy with the position. Without getting too specific, I think that the job was oversold to me and I'm not doing the design/analysis work I thought I would be doing. Right now I've been given just a bunch of grunt work. Other coworkers my age are in the same boat, and they've been around for between 1-2 years. There is a bad dynamic in the group where the senior engineers are not giving us young guys enough background or training to do anything more useful than relatively menial tasks. Based on the others' experiences and on my own observations of how this group operates, I don't think my skills, experience, or career will grow if I stay here. I believe I was sold a false bill of goods, and management did not act in good faith when they told me I would be doing design/analysis of systems.

Per my relocation contract, if I leave for any other reason than layoff due to reduction-in-force before 1 year I am liable to pay back the entire relocation bonus. My current plan is to put in notice the day I am eligible to do so, but I am so unhappy that I'm considering moving on now.

Do I have any leg to stand on to try to keep relocation by saying I was not hired in good faith? Generally speaking, are there any circumstances where it's possible to keep a relocation benefit like this?

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  • I welcome any edits to make this more general. I don't know if this question is currently framed well enough to fit the Workplace Q&A format...
    – Dang Khoa
    Mar 22, 2016 at 15:39
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    "Per my relocation contract, if I leave for any other reason than layoff due to reduction-in-force before 1 year I am liable to pay back the entire relocation bonus." - It seems by this statement you've already answered your question. You got relocation assistance and agreed to pay it back if you leave before 1 year. If you want to keep it, you've got to stay put until that time.
    – Brandin
    Mar 22, 2016 at 15:42
  • I have never worked at a job where the more senior people gave me much background or training. There are usually a lot of answers in the code, but you'll need to figure out how to look. This is a critical skill, and you're perfectly positioned to gain it. Mar 22, 2016 at 15:42
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    As Brandin says, you've answered your own question. This is about company policy or legal so off topic, voting to close. Mar 22, 2016 at 15:44
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    @DangKhoa, maybe you do need to put in the time to understand the system before you can design for it. Do the grunt work and gain more understanding of what the system does. I can learn a complex database in a matter of less than a month if I put my mind to it. You can do the same in your codebase, but you can;t rely on being spoon fed information. When you get a task, make it a point to read the code around that task and figure out what it is doing and document what you learned so you don't lose information. When you show you know more than your peers, then they will take you more seriously.
    – HLGEM
    Mar 22, 2016 at 19:00

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If you signed a contract stating that you will repay the relocation sponsorship if you leave before the year is up, then most likely the company can, and probably will take you to court over it (if they don't it will be taken as a sign of weakness, and other employees may follow your example).

Once in court you might argue your case, however your claim that you're not growing in your position, etc. is probably difficult to quantify, let alone prove in court.

In other words, trying to breach your contract is a bad idea, which leaves you with two choices:

1. Leave the company and pay back the costs

If you really want to cut ties immediately this is the best way to do it. It may not be too pleasant, but it's the safest.

2. Stick around for 10 more months

During this time you can try to make the best of your time at this company:

  • Build a relationship with a manager/senior dev who might give you a good reference when you leave
  • Propose some improvements which may get you more responsibilities
  • Upgrade your knowledge by taking some part time courses, or online tutorials

These next 10 months do not have to constitute a complete waste of time.

Good luck!

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    Note that you're going tgo be paid during those 10 months... And that it often takes much longer than 2 months to come up to speed in a new job, and grunt work is where the juniormost always starts. Have you tried talking with your manager about how and when you can begin contributing more seriously?
    – keshlam
    Mar 22, 2016 at 17:19
  • @keshlam et al - If it were just me in an isolated case I'd say the same thing. Seeing people that have been here for a year or even 2 makes me worry.
    – Dang Khoa
    Mar 22, 2016 at 19:18
  • You've got nothing to lose by talking to management at this point. Do So. If you don't try you certainly can't succeed.
    – keshlam
    Mar 22, 2016 at 19:22
  • @DangKhoa - you can always prove that there's an exception to the rule. That, or just tough it out for a year while picking up new skills outside of work.
    – AndreiROM
    Mar 22, 2016 at 19:33

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