HOUSTON – A former Buc-ee's employee is in a big pickle with the popular Texas chain.
Kelley Rieves started working at the Buc-ee's in Cypress in 2009. She initially signed a 60-month contract. The contract stated the company could collect her retention pay if she failed to stay employed with the company through the end of her contract.
In 2012, Rieves, after much thinking, decided to leave Buc-ee's and pursue another opportunity. She says she left Buc-ee's on good terms and didn't think there would be a problem.
"I really thought I could do the right thing and move on to the next chapter," Rieves said.
But one year after she left Buc-ee's, she received a letter in the mail stating she owed the company about $67,000, or three years of her retention pay.
"I was in shock," Rieves said.
Buc-ee's ended up suing Rieves, and she filed a lawsuit against Buc-ee's. Fast forward to 2016 and the total she now could potentially owe the company is up to about $100,000. A judge ruled against her saying she is also responsible for Buc-ee's legal fees and interest on her retention pay.
"I don't have $100,000 to pay them," Rieves said. "I mean, it would wreck me. It has been expensive even to discuss the contract with them over the last four years."
Her lawyer, Bruce Johnson, argues Texas law prevents employers from restricting employees from leaving their jobs without facing penalties.
Buc-ee's attorney, Jeff Nadalo, says he can't comment on specifics about the case, but sent KPRC 2 a statement that read: "Buc-ee's employee incentive compensation programs have proven to be very successful, as evidenced by Buc-ee's high employee retention rates. The purpose of Buc-ee's retention program is to attract and retain the very best employees."
Rieves and her lawyer have filed an appeal against the judge's ruling in the case. The appeal has yet to be heard.