When I signed onto my job, it was written into my contract that I would get a 'Hiring Bonus' of $5000 that would be paid over the course of my first year and if I left early, I would have to pay it back. Well, I ended up receiving the allowance in one large lump sum along with my first paycheck. I alerted them to this mistake and they seemed to not care/nothing happened about it.

Since they technically broke the contract, does that mean the entire contract is invalid?

4 Answers 4


Not a lawyer, education purposes only, etc., etc., contact a lawyer, etc., etc.

If the terms of payment clearly stated you would be paid X each month for Y months, with X times Y equal to $5k, and they then proceed to pay X times Y equals $5k on the first month and refuse to pay anything for the other (Y - 1) months, then I think that yes, technically they have failed to live up to their obligations under the contract and you have recourse as provided by your agreement and/or the Law.

That said, there are mitigating factors here:

  1. It would seem that this breach is in your favor. If you believe it is not in your favor, you should be prepared to present a compelling case as to how this breach has harmed you. If you can prove damages, then you will be entitled to be made whole.

  2. You have received the payment and, while you complained, you did not indicate you have refused and/or returned the payment. If your actions could be construed as acceptance of the payment in advance, enough reasonable people may believe that you agreed to a modification to the original agreement. That the company doesn't care is just a bargaining tactic; if you care, you need to take steps to protect your interests.

Maybe more. What happens in the event the agreement is breached is determined by the Law, the agreement itself, and finally by what is found to be equitable at trial.


First of all, there is no breach - they said they would pay it "over the course of the first year"; in what way is the first week not part of the first year?

Second, breaching a contract doesn't always allow the aggrieved party to terminate it: in fact, being able to terminate is only for the most egregious of breaches or ones that are specifically spelled out as giving a right to termination. For example, failure to deliver (or pay) on time or in full would not allow termination, only damages.


They can obviously argue that they paid over the course of the year in one annual payment :-) What they did is in your favour; if you don't like it you can easily fix the problem by only touching $416.67 of the money every month.

I personally wouldn't try to use this as an excuse to claim a breach of contract and then break the contract myself. If you break that contract and get taken to court, I don't think anybody would agree with your interpretation. If you think about breaking the contract, either don't, or contact a lawyer first.


The contract is absolutely still valid. The mistake on there part did not disadvantage you, and is, at most, a technicality, thus, I expect, the courts will see through this and uphold the contract.

Indeed, it sounds like you are being a bit of an asshole by trying to weasel out of it on a minor technicality. If you want to break your contract early, pay them the $5k they paid you in advance and get on with life.

  • Not trying to weasel my way out of it at all. On the contrary, I've been at the job long past the year and after getting a raise, it got me thinking about it again. Just an educational question.
    – BDD
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 13:09
  • 1
    There's an ad hominem element to this answer that is not called for. People should feel free to ask questions about the law without having their motives impugned.
    – feetwet
    Commented May 13, 2016 at 14:30

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