Am I legally bound to repay my company for their tuition reimbursement?

My company offers different tuition reimbursement plans. I am under the plan that the company pays 100% of the tuition and textbooks UPFRONT (before completion of courses).

I was recently reimbursed by the company for my summer courses (which is still ongoing) but I decided to leave company.

Company is asking me to repay them for the reimbursed tuition and textbook costs. They say I am obligated to reimburse them since the courses will run past my last day of employment with company.

I didn't sign any contract. There were no clauses in the employee handbook that states employee must stay with company for X period or will have to reimburse company.

I was under the impression that any tuition reimbursements are not subject to repayment.

The language HR cited from the handbook regarding their position to seek repayment are as follows:

1. Expense reimbursement is contingent upon continued employment

2. If you voluntarily terminate your employment, you will not be eligible for reimbursement

At the time of the reimbursement - I was still employed and have not submitted my resignation.

Am I legally bound to repay company back for their tuition and textbook reimbursement? The language they cited appears vague.

Can I fight to win this? Please help.

1 answer  |  asked Jun 29, 2010 11:09 PM [EST]  |  applies to Massachusetts

Answers (1)

Kevin McGann
Training reimbursement agreements are enforceable, but you say you did not sign one.

The language in the manual is indeed vague and does not exactly cover your situation. Employers themselves argue that manuals do not form a contract (binding them).

There are legal theories outside of contract that the company could use to sue you for the value of the courses, but it is not possible to predict the outcome. The expense of litgation is usually a disincentive for them to do that.

posted by Kevin McGann  |  Jun 30, 2010 7:35 PM [EST]

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