I am a big fan of your website and the legal advice you make. The reason I am writing is to get legal guidance from your regarding the situation my wife is at right now. Let me give you a quick background of the story.
My wife has been working for a big international company specializing in energy production. She joined the company since 2008 until now. During the first few months of working in the company her skills and knowledge was easily recognized by her boss and the management and she has been a significant contributor for a lot of their projects both locally and internationally. After 6 months of working in the Philippines her boss told her that they would like to bring her over to California (corporate site) to help out in a project. The company sponsored her B1/B2 VISA for USA telling the embassy that she is visiting USA for training, even thought there prime purpose is to use her skills for a project. She went to USA several times after that, usually for short term assignment (2 to 5 months). However during this process she never signed any contract or agreement regarding a training bond or any ties with the company for the next years. On 2010 her employer and manager decided to keep her for long term assignments at USA, so they asked her to process a L1B VISA under the sponsorship of the company. My wife thinking that this is a good opportunity for her career and family grabbed the opportunity. She was also hoping to get a permanent US paying job from the company in the next few months. The company HR personnel sent out several supporting documents and requirements to the embassy and a request letter stating that they need her on board at USA for long term projects so they can utilize her special skills and knowledge to help on the success of the company. Together with this documents is a contract that states that for the span of time that she will be at USA, her salary will still be based at Philippines and that the company will provide her with per diem allowance, place to stay, medical insurance and all the taxes involved during her travel is covered by the company but she can’t work for another company at USA. Again no contract or letter of assignment where signed between my wife and the company. For the next 3 years she was working for the company with L1B VISA. She only goes back to Philippines once or twice a year for holidays or Christmas vacation. For that span of time she never got any sort of salary increase or additional allowance. Last month she went back to Philippines and another company called her (a direct competitor of her current emloyeer). They called her in for an interview and offered her a very nice position and generous offer. She will be base at Singapore and will have a very exciting and challenging job function. Now few days later she talked to her manager telling him that she will be submitting a formal resignation letter as she would like to accept a new opportunity from a different company (ofcourse she did not mention the name of the company). Her manager directly told her that she is not allowed to do that since she is bonded with the company because of the training they give her at USA. My wife reasoned out in a very polite manner that she did remember being in training and she was there to work. Also take note that she did not sign any contract or agreement. The next day the manager brought up the issue to the HR saying that my wife is not allowed to leave the company until she has served minimum of 1 more year in her job function. They also brought up issues on unliquidated travel expenses and improper travel accounting issues against my wife. The HR then talk to her about this issues and they want to resolve this also she was offered a promotion by her current employer just to stay with them. My wife and I thinks that they are doing all they can to keep her.
The other employer called her several times and they want her to report to work in the next month. But with her current employer not giving consent to her resignation letter she is trapped and is not sure of what to do. She is planning to leave the company without any permission (AWOL) and accept the job offer from the other company. Our question is what are the legal consequences she might face from being awol from her current employer? We understand that she might not get any termination fee and her records will not be cleared out but the offer is too good to let go and may not be available again in the future. Also they are bringing up travel expenses issues against her amounting US $10,000. What legal responsibility should she face on leaving her current responsibility without any approval and without settling the accounting issues raised against her? Is her travel document going to be affected?
We badly need your legal advice. I look forward to your comments and suggestions. Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions for any clarifications you need.
Thank you in advance.